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Athletics-White Sox Preview

AP - Sports

The Oakland Athletics' starting rotation still looks every bit as tough as it was in a three-game sweep of the Chicago White Sox last week.

Those pitchers get another shot at Chicago, which hopes its offensive struggles come to an end after concluding an otherwise miserable road trip on a high note.

Oakland's starters look to keep rolling Thursday night as the A's visit the White Sox in the opener of a four-game series.

The Athletics (36-25) were two games below .500 before winning 16 of 19. Dominant pitching has helped key the surge, with starters posting a 12-2 record and 2.44 ERA while allowing 10 homers in 125 2-3 innings.

They combined to hold Chicago to one run and 13 hits over 21 1-3 innings last weekend in Oakland and didn't let up in taking two of three in Milwaukee. Starters held the Brewers to three runs over 21 innings, with Bartolo Colon allowing one over seven in a 6-1 win Wednesday.

"When you get on streaks like that, it means you're doing something right," manager Bob Melvin told the A's official website. "Not just on the pitching end but the offensive end."

The White Sox (25-32) avoided their first nine-game losing streak in nearly 22 years Wednesday, managing a 7-5 victory in 16 innings at Seattle. The Mariners matched Chicago's five-run 14th, but Alejandro De Aza provided the go-ahead run with an RBI single in the 16th. It was the first major league game in which both clubs finished with five or more runs after being scoreless through nine.

Chicago's five runs in the 14th were more than the club scored in any game during the skid, and the White Sox have 22 runs over the last nine.

"We're all too exhausted right now to relish it," second baseman Gordon Beckham said. "But when you're down, you've got an eight-game losing streak, and you're battling and what happens in the 14th happened it's like, 'How can it get any worse?' ... We battled and hopefully it does enough for us to get going back in the right direction."

Oakland starter Dan Straily (3-2, 4.60 ERA) will try to keep the White Sox's bats quiet, much like he did Saturday as he allowed one run and six hits in six innings while not receiving a decision in a 4-3 win.

The right-hander is 2-0 with a 0.95 ERA in his last three starts, and a reduction in walks has helped key that success. Straily has issued one free pass in those games after yielding 12 over 19 1-3 innings while going 0-2 with an 8.84 ERA in his previous four starts.

"It's a lot harder to hit when you have strikes on you, at least that's what I've heard," Straily told the team's official website.

Straily will be matched up against the same White Sox starter from last weekend's game in Jose Quintana (3-2, 3.86). The left-hander gave up a season-high 10 hits in 5 1-3 innings while not factoring in the decision and has a 5.56 ERA in his last two starts.

"(Quintana) was in and out," manager Robin Ventura said Saturday. "He never evened out."

Oakland's game Wednesday was tied at 1-all until the A's scored five times in the seventh, highlighted by a three-run homer from Brandon Moss, who was hitting .132 with 21 strikeouts over his previous 21 games. With the White Sox expected to roll out a left-handed starter for all four games, rookie Nate Freiman could get a majority of the playing time at first base over Moss.

Freiman is batting .340 against lefties while Moss is hitting .167 with 22 strikeouts in 42 at-bats.

"Moss will be getting some at-bats against left-handers," Melvin said. "He's going to get hot again. There's no doubt about it. ... But based on the fact Freiman has done well against left-handed pitching, he's going to get the brunt of the at-bats."

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