Athletics-Rangers Preview

The Associated Press

With Jarrod Parker seemingly back to last season's form, the Oakland Athletics hope to continue the outstanding work on the mound that's keyed their win streak.

Parker looks to build off his best performance of the season Wednesday when the A's try to complete their first three-game road sweep over the AL-best Texas Rangers in four seasons.

Since posting a 5.59 ERA during a stretch of seven losses in nine games, Oakland has won five straight behind a starting rotation that has a 1.91 ERA over that span.

Rookie Dan Straily was the latest A's starter to throw a gem, giving up only two singles while facing 22 batters in seven innings to outduel Texas seven-game winner Yu Darvish in a 1-0 win Tuesday.

Yoenis Cespedes hit his second homer in three games to account for the only run. He's batting .310 with three homers while hitting safely in each of his 10 career games in Arlington.

"As soon as Cespedes hit that home run, I knew just keep it there, 1-0 our best chance,'' Straily said.

Even with consecutive wins to start the series, Oakland (25-22) still trails Texas (29-17) by 4 1/2 games in the AL West.

The A's now turn to Parker (2-5, 6.04 ERA) as they try for their first sweep in Arlington since Sept. 14-16, 2009.

Parker, who placed fifth in the 2012 AL Rookie of the Year voting after winning 13 games, got off to a rough start this season before showing improvement lately.

The right-hander is 2-1 with a 4.07 ERA over his last four starts since going 0-4 with an 8.10 ERA in his first five. His last outing was his best yet, allowing one run and four hits over seven innings before leaving without a decision in a 2-1 win over Kansas City on Friday.

"Parker, just getting him on track, it looked like he was more confident,'' manager Bob Melvin said. "Hopefully that's a springboard.''

Parker also looks to continue his success against the Rangers, yielding six runs and 12 hits with 20 strikeouts in 20 innings while winning all three career starts.

He's certainly made things tough on Texas sluggers Nelson Cruz (0 for 9), Mitch Moreland (1 for 6) and Adrian Beltre (2 for 9).

Catcher A.J. Pierzynski went 1-for-3 Tuesday in his first start since May 5 because of a strained right oblique muscle. He's hitting .400 over a nine-game hitting streak against the A's.

Texas, which ranks among the major league leaders with 58 homers, had gone deep in 12 straight games before failing to homer in the first two games of this series.

The Rangers lost for only the fourth time in 13 games, but have dropped eight of 11 to Oakland. They haven't lost three straight since the A's beat them three straight in Oakland to win the AL West crown last October.

Scheduled starter Ross Wolf is expected to make his season debut in place of rookie Nick Tepesch, who was scratched due to a blister on his right middle finger. Wolf made 11 appearances for Oakland when he last pitched in the big leagues in 2010, and was 1-1 with a 1.85 ERA in six starts for Triple-A Round Rock.

"He's the hottest guy down there right now," Texas manager Ron Washington said. "I hope he can come up and continue that."

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