Cubs-Athletics Preview

The Associated Press

The Chicago Cubs are again toiling near the bottom of the NL, but it's not because of their play against the AL.

Looking to continue their interleague success, the Cubs try to win their fourth straight series Thursday against the Oakland Athletics.

At 11-5 against AL opponents with four such games remaining, Chicago (36-46) secured its first winning interleague record since going 8-4 in 2007 with a 3-1 win at Oakland on Wednesday. The Cubs have hit .293 and averaged 6.1 runs against the AL, compared to .231 with 3.7 per contest against the NL.

Luis Valbuena homered and was one five players with two hits Wednesday for Chicago, which improved to 5-3 on a nine-game trip. A victory Thursday would give the Cubs a fourth consecutive series win after losing nine of the previous 11.

Alfonso Soriano has keyed their good results against AL opponents, batting .378 with 10 RBIs during a 10-game interleague hitting streak. He's hit .409 with nine RBIs in the last five, and 37 of his 39 RBIs this season have come in his last 50 games.

The Cubs hand the ball to Travis Wood (5-6, 2.85 ERA) on Thursday. The left-hander had a 3.06 ERA in five June starts but went 0-3 while his teammates provided him with an average 2.51 runs of support.

Wood, who went 0-8 during a 10-start stretch last season, allowed two runs and three hits in 6 1-3 innings Friday at Seattle and left with a two-run lead before Chicago lost 5-4 in 10 innings.

"Travis pitched another heck of a ballgame," manager Dale Sveum said. "About as snakebit as it can get, giving up his wins."

Making his first appearance against the A's, Wood is 1-1 with a 3.16 ERA against AL opponents this season.

Brandon Moss homered for one of the four hits Wednesday for Oakland (49-36), which lost for the fourth time in 21 home contests. Josh Donaldson went 0 for 3 with a walk and two strikeouts after going 10 for 20 with four homers and nine RBIs in his previous six contests.

The A's will recall Dan Straily (4-2, 5.00) from Triple-A to start in place of Jarrod Parker, who will be pushed back to Saturday because of a tight hamstring.

Sent to the minors June 23, Straily is 3-0 with a 3.54 ERA in his past seven major league starts but failed to complete five innings in the last two - both on the road. He allowed a combined eight runs and 14 hits in eight frames.

"He's done some good things for us this year," manager Bob Melvin told the Athletics' official website. "The last couple of starts haven't been his best, but he was on quite a roll for us there, too."

The right-hander is 2-0 with a 1.93 ERA in his last three home starts.

If the A's lose, they will have dropped two of three games in all three series they have played against the Cubs.

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