Athletics-Blue Jays Preview

The Associated Press

The Oakland Athletics' hitters haven't enjoyed much success since last week's meeting with scuffling Toronto Blue Jays right-hander Esmil Rogers.

Seeking to stay in first place in the AL West, the A's will try to use another matchup with Rogers to get back on track Friday night.

Oakland (64-49) had a six-game division lead after a 9-4 win over Toronto and Rogers on July 29, but that's evaporated during a 1-6 stretch. The A's dropped into a tie with Texas after their third straight loss Wednesday, 6-5 in Cincinnati.

There was, however, some improvement from their hitters. Oakland had 11 hits after batting .201 in its previous six games and was 4 for 9 with runners in scoring position after going 4 for 42 in the prior six.

"We had some of our best at-bats we've had in a while," manager Bob Melvin told the team's website. "So you try to take something positive from that."

The A's, who have had at least a share of the division lead since July 2, haven't lost four straight since a season-high five-game skid May 6-10.

They started their lackluster stretch by losing the final two games in a home series with the Blue Jays (53-61) but got eight runs and 10 hits off Rogers in his 4 1-3 innings in the opener. Yoenis Cespedes hit a two-run triple in the opening frame, while Josh Reddick hit a two-run double in the fifth.

Following his first start against the A's, Rogers (3-6, 4.61 ERA) gave up seven runs over five innings in a 7-3 loss at the Los Angeles Angels on Saturday. He yielded 10 hits for the third straight game.

Rogers is also 0-4 with a 6.20 ERA in his last eight outings, and is partly to blame for Toronto's rotation owning baseball's second-worst ERA at 5.15.

"Starting pitching is the name of the game, and it's really hurt us this year," manager John Gibbons said.

The Blue Jays, though, nearly returned home from a West Coast trip with a four-game win streak but blew a five-run lead in a 9-7 loss in Seattle on Wednesday. Toronto has totaled 23 runs in its last four contests and has 11 or more hits in three of those games.

Jarrod Parker (7-6, 4.02) will try to limit the Blue Jays with another solid outing. The right-hander is 6-1 with a 2.86 ERA in his last 15 starts and bounced back from his worst outing over that stretch Saturday.

Parker gave up six runs and a career-high seven walks in five innings against the Los Angeles Angels on July 28 before allowing two runs over six innings in a 4-2 victory over Texas.

"He kept his composure and made big pitches when he had to," Melvin told the team's website.

Parker will try to help the A's, losers in six of nine on the road, earn a sixth win in their last eight games in Toronto. He allowed two runs and four hits over seven innings in his lone start against the Blue Jays last May.

Oakland infielder Alberto Callaspo might play Friday after leaving Wednesday with a bruised left forearm suffered while trying to score in the fourth inning.

Oakland's Eric Sogard, riding a major league-best 13-game hit streak, went 1 for 3 against Rogers on July 29, but is 4 for 18 (.222) in nine games versus the Blue Jays.