Cubs-Athletics Preview


Josh Donaldson is tearing things up offensively at home, and considering who he'll face on Tuesday night, there's little reason to believe he'll cool down.

Donaldson looks to stay hot and lead the Oakland Athletics to their 17th win in 20 home games when they host the Chicago Cubs and fill-in starter Chris Rusin for the first time in franchise history.

Donaldson homered and doubled in a 7-5 win over St. Louis on Sunday, leaving him 10 for 21 with four homers, three doubles and eight RBIs in his last six home games.

The third baseman has emerged as an All-Star candidate while leading Oakland (48-35) with a .316 average and 53 RBIs. He's also third on the team with 13 home runs.

"If someone wants to say that I'm having an All-Star year so far, that's fine,'' said Donaldson. "I've said it a hundred times, if I just focus on helping our team win and try to do something productive for the team, the individual stuff is going to take care of itself.''

The A's have been productive in key spots as of late, hitting .444 (16 for 36) with runners in scoring position while winning four of five on their current homestand.

Jed Lowrie has three hits in his last four run-producing situations, and is batting .457 with two homers and nine RBIs over a nine-game hit streak overall.

The man who has scored more runs than any other Oakland player is a bit banged up, however. Leadoff hitter Coco Crisp could be held out Tuesday after leaving Sunday's game in the fourth inning with back spasms.

The A's, who are an AL-best 26-13 at home, will try to keep swinging the bats well against Rusin, who will make the eighth start of his major league career and his first in 2013.

Rusin is filling in for Scott Feldman, who was dealt along with Steve Clevenger to the Orioles on Tuesday for pitchers Jake Arrieta and Pedro Strop. The left-hander was brutal during his time in the majors last season, going 2-3 with a 6.37 ERA, but he's 5-3 with a 2.33 ERA in his last eight outings for Triple-A Iowa in 2013.

Donaldson is hitting .354 with five homers and a 1.092 OPS in 82 at-bats against southpaws this season.

The A's counter with A.J. Griffin (6-6, 3.56), who hopes to build on a career-best performance in his last outing.

Griffin struck out seven while tossing a two-hitter in a 5-0 victory over Cincinnati on Wednesday. He had been 0-3 with a 4.02 ERA over his previous five starts - all Oakland losses.

Griffin has never faced the Cubs (35-45), though he's 1-1 with a 1.95 ERA in four career starts against NL opponents.

He'll attempt to hold down a Chicago offense that has been showing signs of improvement, averaging 6.4 runs with nine homers and 22 doubles over its last seven games.

Alfonso Soriano helped the Cubs win for the fourth time in five games with a pair of doubles in Sunday's 7-6 victory at Seattle. He went 7 for 14 with two homers, three doubles and five RBIs in the series.

"Doubles are good. Runs are better,'' said second baseman Darwin Barney, who also had two doubles. "Once something good happens, good things start going through your mind, and that's the whole battle in this game."

Chicago won four of six against Oakland in two previous interleague series.