Athletics-Indians Preview

The Associated Press

Oakland Athletics manager Bob Melvin might be putting together his starting rotation on the fly lately, but his pitchers have rarely disappointed - especially against the Cleveland Indians.

Travis Blackley is next in line for a spot start Wednesday as red-hot Oakland seeks a fifth consecutive victory overall and a three-game sweep of host Cleveland.

Melvin has had to get creative at times with his starting rotation following the return of Brett Anderson from injury and the sudden suspension of Bartolo Colon.

It's seemed to work out well of late, with the starters posting a 2.67 ERA while the Athletics (71-57) have won eight of 10. Oakland, which is tied with Baltimore atop the AL wild-card race, beat the Indians 7-0 on Tuesday with Tommy Milone earning his 11th victory.

"Another strong pitching performance and you can always live with that,'' Melvin said after Milone scattered seven hits through six innings.

The A's have shut out Cleveland three straight times - including a 7-0 victory Aug. 19 in Oakland - and the pitching staff has posted a 1.67 ERA against the Indians while winning six consecutive meetings after dropping the first two in the season series.

"Just par for the course. Our guys are unbelievable,'' said A's outfielder Brandon Moss, who homered and drove in three runs Tuesday.

Blackley (4-3, 3.52 ERA), who is 3-3 with a 4.04 ERA in 11 starts and has also spent time in the bullpen, will look to help keep the A's rolling.

He gave up five runs over five innings of Oakland's 9-7 win over the White Sox on Aug. 11 in his last start, then came on in relief Aug. 20 and gave up a run in 5 2-3 innings of the Athletics' 7-2 loss to Minnesota.

With the starting rotation constantly in flux, Melvin considered a number of factors when choosing Blackley for Wednesday.

"We just felt like we're better off going with a guy who's more stretched out at this point," Melvin told the team's official website. "He's been really good for us in a number of roles. Not only that, but he probably deserves the start."

The left-hander's only outing against Cleveland was his third major league start in 2004, when he gave up a career-worst seven runs in two innings for Seattle.

It may not matter who is on the mound against the Indians, who have lost 12 of 13 and haven't scored more than three runs in any of their last nine games.

Cleveland (55-74), which also has lost five of six at home, is hitting .207 over the past two weeks.

"A loss is a loss,'' manager Manny Acta said. "Every single one of them hurts. We couldn't execute at all.''

The Indians will look to salvage the series finale with help from rookie starter Corey Kluber (0-2, 5.32), who still is searching for his first major league win.

Kluber gave up one run in five innings of Cleveland's 3-1 loss to the Yankees on Friday, hitting Derek Jeter in the head in the process and getting a stern reprimand from the Yankees' captain. He'd allowed four runs - all unearned - over five innings in his previous outing Aug. 18 as the Indians fell 8-5 to Oakland.

The right-hander has received one run of support in 13 1-3 innings over his last three starts.

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