Los Angeles (63-45) at Oakland (52-58)

Partly Cloudy Currently: Oakland, CA
Temp: 50° F
  • Game info: 3:55 pm EDT Sat Aug 4, 2007
Preview | Box Score | Recap

The Oakland Athletics may have the worst division record in the AL West, but they’ve had plenty of success against the first-place Los Angeles Angels. To continue that run, they’ll need starter Joe Blanton to rebound from a dismal stretch.

The Athletics look for another win over the division leaders when they meet Los Angeles on Saturday at McAfee Coliseum.

Oakland (52-58) is 14-19 versus AL West opponents this season, but has taken seven of 11 meetings with the Angels (63-45). The A’s scored five runs in the bottom of the eighth inning on Friday to win 8-4 and even the four-game series.

They capitalized on a throwing error by Vladimir Guerrero in that inning, but were unable to slow him at the plate. Guerrero hit a game-tying two-run homer in the sixth and added a go-ahead shot in the top of the eighth.

He also homered twice in Thursday’s opener and is 5-for-9 with seven RBIs in the first two games of the series. The eight-time All-Star is batting .469 (15-for-32) with six homers and 13 RBIs versus the A’s this season.

“The only guy I’ve seen walked with the bases empty is Barry Bonds and after tonight I’m putting Vlad in that class,” said A’s manager Bob Geren, whose team has won three of its last four games. “All of a sudden he’s on fire and he did a number on us. We have to find a way to keep him in check the rest of the series.”

Los Angeles’ Chone Figgins went 2-for-3 Friday and is hitting .414 (92-for-222) since June 1, tops in the majors. He’s just 7-for-31 (.226) in his career against Blanton, who has also held Guerrero to a .231 (6-for-26) average.

Blanton (8-8, 3.82 ERA), however, is 0-4 with a 6.75 ERA over his last five starts while allowing opponents to hit .361.

The right-hander gave up five runs and nine hits over 6 2-3 innings in a 5-2 defeat to Detroit on Monday. Blanton didn’t issue a walk and struck out five, but lost his third straight start at home.

Contributing to Blanton’s slide was the trade of veteran catcher Jason Kendall to the Chicago Cubs on July 16. He is now throwing to rookie Kurt Suzuki, but said they’re improving together.

“Kurt’s getting better every outing, and that’s all you can ask,” Blanton told the Athletics’ official Web site. “I’m trusting him more and more.”

It may be tough for Blanton to get back on track Saturday as he is 1-6 with a 3.93 ERA in 12 career games versus the Angels. He’s lost his last three home starts to Los Angeles, but won at Angel Stadium on April 8 by allowing one run in 5 1-3 innings of a 2-1 victory.

The Angels have dropped eight of their last 12 on the road and will hand the ball to Kelvim Escobar (11-5, 2.87). The right-hander went 5-0 with a 2.68 ERA over eight starts from June 5-July 19, but lost his next two games despite a 3.00 ERA.

He has gotten just one total run of support over his last two starts, including a 2-0 defeat to Seattle on Monday when he walked one and struck out seven in a complete-game effort.

“I tried to keep the game as close as I could,” Escobar told the Angels’ official Web site. “I think I did a pretty good job. I set a tempo. I can’t worry about the offense.”

Escobar is 0-2 with a 3.46 ERA in two starts against Oakland this year, but both of those outings were at home. He’s 3-0 with a 4.54 ERA in six career starts at McAfee Coliseum.

The 31-year-old veteran has the second-lowest ERA in the AL. He won’t face Oakland third baseman Eric Chavez, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list Friday because of lower back spasms.

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Starting Pitchers

K. Escobar NYM vs. J. Blanton LAA
18-7 Record 14-10
3.40 ERA 3.95
160 K 140
66 BB 40
1.27 WHIP 1.22

Scoreboard

Saturday, Aug 4