Winning in Oakland has never been easy for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.
Now they’ll try for consecutive road wins against the Athletics for the first time since their inaugural season on Saturday in the second of a three-game set at McAfee Coliseum.
Tampa Bay (10-13) got eight strong innings from starter James Shields in a 4-1 win over Oakland (11-12) in the series opener. The victory improved the Devil Rays to 9-34 in Oakland and gives them a chance to win two straight there for the first time since May 26 and Sept. 4, 1998.
The Devil Rays have never won more than one game in a series at Oakland.
“You never feel comfortable out there,” oft-injured center fielder Rocco Baldelli told the Devil Rays’ official Web site. “And every time you go out there, you’re usually facing some top-notch pitching.”
That won’t change Saturday when Tampa Bay faces Oakland ace Dan Haren (2-2, 1.41 ERA), who will be going for his third straight victory while trying to help the A’s avoid losing four in a row.
“Every time out is completely different from the last time, and you don’t ever want to be overconfident,” Haren told the Athletics’ official Web site.
Haren, who allowed one run and five hits in seven innings to earn the win in Oakland’s 6-5 victory at Baltimore on Monday, is 3-1 with a 2.48 ERA in four starts against the Devil Rays.
Baldelli, who is hitting .280 and is 3-for-6 with two doubles in his last two games, did not play Friday due to a bruised right leg and is not expected to play until Sunday’s series finale.
Like Haren, Tampa Bay’s Casey Fossum (2-1, 6.94 ERA) will try for his third straight win. Fossum allowed six runs and 10 hits in 5 2-3 innings in his most recent start against the New York Yankees on Monday, but still earned the win in the Devil Rays’ 10-8 victory.
The left-hander is 1-1 with an 8.36 ERA in seven games, including two starts, against Oakland.
Friday marked the first time in 21 games in which A’s starting pitcher gave up four runs. Oakland’s starting staff has a 2.20 ERA in 2007, but the offense has scored just three runs in the last three games.
“`It’s frustrating,” said A’s shortstop Bobby Crosby, who homered Friday. “We know we’ll get good pitching, and if we can scrap together a few runs we have a chance to win. Scoring one run isn’t going to do it. We need to pick it up. If we relax, we’ll be fine.”
The A’s have not lost four in a row at home since losing five straight from July 7-25.
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