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Athletics-Rockies Preview

AP - Sports

Listless for much of the spring, the Oakland Athletics' offense has awakened.

Colorado Rockies pitchers are giving all opposing lineups a jolt of energy these days.

The Athletics look to complete their first-ever three-game sweep at Coors Field on Thursday afternoon, while the Rockies will try to end their seven-game losing streak and finally break into the win column in interleague play.

Colorado (24-37) has dropped all eight of its interleague games in 2012, and has lost seven straight overall due largely to pitching that's been nothing short of putrid. The Rockies, who have yielded six runs or more in each game of their skid, are trying to avoid becoming the first NL club to allow six in eight straight games since the Florida Marlins from July 8-18, 2005.

Colorado's staff ERA is 8.85 during the losing streak. The starting rotation has been even worse, compiling a 13.35 ERA while allowing the opposition to bat an otherworldly .420.

The Rockies appeared primed to end their slide Wednesday when they took a two-run lead into the ninth inning after a grand slam from Todd Helton and two homers from Michael Cuddyer, but closer Rafael Betancourt coughed up three runs with two outs. Brandon Inge's two-run double proved the deciding blow in Oakland's 10-8 victory.

Colorado, which squandered a 4-0 lead en route to an 8-5 defeat in Tuesday's series opener and led by as many as four runs Wednesday, has blown leads of three runs or more in eight of its losses this season.

"We can react one of two ways,'' Helton said. "We can put our heads down and feel sorry for ourselves or we can come out (Thursday) ready to play. Hopefully, we do the latter. It's gut-check time, time to see what we're made of.''

One team's blown lead is another team's rally, and Oakland (28-35) is showing much greater offensive prowess than it had for most of the spring. The A's have scored seven runs or more in six of their last 11 games after doing so just four times in their first 52 contests.

"We've got a bunch of grinders,'' said former Rockies outfielder Seth Smith, who homered and doubled Wednesday for Oakland. "Regardless of where we are, who we're playing, we're in it till the end.''

Much of the A's offensive resurgence has come without Cuban slugger Yoenis Cespedes, who returned Wednesday from a five-game absence due to a left hamstring strain, only to re-aggravate the injury while running out a grounder in the top of the first. He is considered day to day.

While the Rockies haven't gotten any strong starts during their losing streak, Thursday's scheduled starter Alex White (2-4, 5.66 ERA) came the closest. The right-hander, who had won his previous two outings, gave up four runs and eight hits - two of them homers to Torii Hunter - in six innings of Friday's 7-2 loss to the Los Angeles Angels.

Oakland will counter with rookie Jarrod Parker (2-3, 3.19), who seeks to bounce back from a rough outing. The right-hander, who had flirted with a no-hitter and thrown eight one-hit innings to beat Texas in his previous start, gave up six runs, a career-high eight hits and five walks in five innings of Saturday's 8-3 loss at Arizona.

Parker has never faced Colorado, and White has never faced Oakland.

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