Indians-Athletics Preview

The Associated Press

After two miserable starts, Justin Masterson has gotten back on track by stopping a pair of losing streaks for the Cleveland Indians.

While seeking a season-high third straight win, the right-hander will get the chance to end another skid for his club in Sunday's series finale against the Oakland Athletics.

Masterson (9-10, 4.50 ERA) had allowed a combined 17 runs over two games before facing Minnesota on Aug. 8, but helped the Indians end a season-high 11-game skid with a 6-2 win. He tossed six scoreless innings in a 6-2 victory over the Los Angeles Angels on Monday, as the Indians snapped a 10-game road losing streak.

"I had no clue (about the skid). I just wanted to go out and pitch well," Masterson said. "Starting another long road trip, you want to start out with a good effort. And that's what I was trying to give us. ... I'll definitely take the effort that I had tonight."

In his next start, Masterson will try to help Cleveland (54-66) end a four-game slide. The Indians have been outscored 31-19 during that skid and trailed by seven runs after the eighth inning Saturday before scoring late in an 8-5 defeat.

The A's Yoenis Cespedes homered and drove in three runs during his team's third straight victory and fourth in a row at home. Cespedes is batting .379 in his last 33 games, but has only three extra-base hits over his last 18, two homers and a double.

"He gets frustrated, he gets mad but he never presses," manager Bob Melvin said. "Shoot, when we signed him if we knew he'd have the numbers he has right now, boy we would have taken it in a heartbeat."

Masterson might go a long way in helping the Indians snap their latest losing streak by ending his struggles at Oakland (64-55), who trail by one-half game in the AL wild-card race.

The right-hander is 0-3 with an 11.08 ERA in three career starts there. He gave up four runs and walked six over five innings during a 5-1 loss at Coliseum on April 22.

Masterson, though, might have a good opportunity at his first win in Oakland on Sunday as he'll pitch opposite a struggling Jarrod Parker (7-7, 3.71). The right-hander is 0-3 with a 6.85 ERA over his last four starts and gave up five runs over 4 2-3 innings in a 5-0 loss in Kansas City on Tuesday.

"It's just going to take a well-pitched game," Melvin said of what Parker needs. "I thought he was on his way tonight, but one inning got him out of his rhythm and we had to take him out.

"Pitchers go through ups and downs. He's going through a tough part right now and he's just got to fight his way through it."

In his first start against Cleveland, Parker will try to lead the A's to their first sweep of the Indians since they won all four games in Oakland from Sept. 17-20, 2009. They recorded their most recent three-game home sweep of the Indians from April 25-27, 2003.

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