While the Oakland Athletics have fallen off the pace over the last four weeks, they picked up a much-needed win last time out.
The A’s try to further distance themselves from the Baltimore Orioles in the wild-card race as these AL contenders conclude a three-game series Sunday at Camden Yards.
After dropping Friday’s opener 9-7, Oakland (72-56) bounced back Saturday with a 2-1 victory. Jarrod Parker threw eight sharp innings to earn his eighth straight win and Coco Crisp hit a tiebreaking homer in the ninth as the A’s snapped a three-game skid.
“It’s gratifying that the guys are just able to pick you up,” said Parker, whose team improved to 9-13 since July 30. “It’s one of those things where it almost seems like it’s meant to be when it happens.”
The Orioles (69-59), meanwhile, had scored 37 runs and hit .351 with runners in scoring position in taking four of five in the series this year, but they went 0 for 6 in such situations Saturday. Chris Davis, Adam Jones and Matt Wieters, the team’s Nos. 3-5 hitters, went a combined 0 for 10.
Ryan Flaherty provided the only offense for Baltimore, which again finds itself three games behind Oakland for the second wild-card spot having dropped seven of 11.
“In the playoff race, it’s important. Every game is important,” pitcher Chris Tillman said. “A loss always stinks. They’re never fun.”
The Orioles could be in for another long day at the plate against A’s starter Sonny Gray (1-1, 1.44 ERA), who has impressed in three starts since being recalled for the second time Aug. 10. The 23-year-old right-hander has limited opponents to a .135 average and struck out 21 in as many innings during those outings.
Gray allowed two hits over seven innings of two-run ball and was in line for the win Tuesday before the bullpen collapsed in a 7-4 defeat to Seattle. He retired 13 of the final 14 batters he faced.
“He pitched great again, it’s good to see,” manager Bob Melvin told MLB’s official website. “He’s got some presence out there, and certainly has the stuff.”
Gray will get his first look at Davis, who leads the majors with 46 homers. While Davis is 4 for 19 versus Oakland this year, two of those hits have left the yard.
The Orioles counter with Scott Feldman (3-3, 4.84), who allowed two runs and five hits in 6 2-3 innings to beat Colorado 7-2 last Sunday. The right-hander had gone 1-3 with a 7.66 ERA in four previous home starts since joining the team July 2.
Feldman is 4-6 with a 7.22 ERA in 12 career starts against the A’s, though this will be his first look at Oakland in 2013. Jed Lowrie is 3 for 6 with two doubles in their matchups while Alberto Callaspo is 1 for 15.
Lowrie is 9 for 25 with four doubles and two triples during a six-game hitting streak. Crisp, 6 for his last 12, has gone deep in three consecutive games.
Crisp is batting .362 with three homers, eight RBIs and 10 runs in his last 12 in Baltimore.
Despite Saturday’s loss, the Orioles have taken seven of 11 from the A’s at home.