San Francisco (20-22) at Oakland (22-20)

Clear Currently: Oakland, CA, US
Temp: 60° F
  • Game info: 4:05 pm EDT Sun May 20, 2007
Preview | Box Score | Recap

The Oakland Athletics are glad they discovered Jack Cust.

Cust looks to keep up his torrid pace at the plate and lead the A’s to a three-game sweep of the San Francisco Giants when the teams wrap their series at McAfee Coliseum on Sunday.

Cust hit a three-run, first-inning homer in Saturday’s 4-2 win over San Francisco that proved to be the game-winner. Since joining the A’s on May 4 after a minor-league trade with San Diego, Cust has eight homers in 13 games and is hitting .310 (13-for-42).

Before then, Cust had seen only limited time in the majors and had just five homers and 32 hits in 144 career at-bats with four different teams in the big leagues.

“What a great find,” A’s manager Bob Geren said. “He’s on a very hot streak. His strike zone is just very consistent every night, and whenever you can keep doing that, you have a chance to do something special.”

Cust’s homer Saturday helped put the A’s on the verge of their first sweep of their Bay Area rivals since taking a three-game set June 24-26, 2005, in Oakland. The A’s have won 11 of their last 16 games against the Giants, and six of the last eight meetings in Oakland.

Cust, who also has 16 walks and a .500 on-base percentage, said he is a fan of San Francisco slugger Barry Bonds and has tried to emulate his mix of patience and power at the plate.

“I love watching (Bonds’) approach,” Cust said. “He’s been the guy forever. He’s not sneaking up on anybody, but he’s got kind of the best approach ever.”

Lately, Cust has been far more productive than his idol. Bonds has failed to homer since May 8, remaining 10 behind Hank Aaron’s career record of 755.

Bonds is hitting just .200 (5-for-25) with two runs and no RBIs since that game, and the Giants have gone 3-7. Bonds has been serving as their designated hitter during this series.

Bengie Molina homered Saturday for San Francisco (20-22), which has dropped eight of 11. Randy Winn led off the game with a single to extend his hitting streak to 18 games, the longest by a Giants player since Robby Thompson hit in 21 straight in 1993.

“When we’re not clicking offensively, one pitch is the difference in the game,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said.

First baseman Rich Aurilia (upper shoulder spasms) and second baseman Ray Durham (right groin) both missed their second straight game, but should return Sunday.

Matt Morris (4-1, 3.27 ERA) will look to help the Giants avoid the sweep after giving up three runs in six innings of San Francisco’s 6-5, 10-inning loss at Houston on Tuesday. Morris has not received a decision in either of his last two starts despite allowing just five runs in 13 innings.

However, he has given up two homers in each outing after allowing just one in his first six starts.

“He pitched well. He had a win, but we let it get away,” Bochy told the Giants’ official Web site on Tuesday. “He got a couple of balls up, but overall it was a good effort, a quality start.”

Morris made his only previous start against Oakland on June 15, 2004, while still with St. Louis, allowing four runs and two homers in seven innings of a 8-4 home win.

Oakland will counter with Joe Kennedy (1-2, 2.53), who allowed one run in 7 2-3 innings of the Athletics’ 5-4, 11-inning win over Kansas City on Tuesday. Kennedy, who was coming off his first win of the season five days earlier at Kansas City, has allowed just one run in all but one of his six starts.

Kennedy is 4-2 with a 5.36 ERA in eight career starts against the Giants, but has not faced them since 2005, his first season with Oakland.

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Starting Pitchers

M. Morris PIT vs. J. Kennedy TOR
10-11 Record 4-9
4.89 ERA 4.80
102 K 51
61 BB 55
1.52 WHIP 1.57