Orioles-Athletics Preview

The Associated Press

Challenging for the top spot in the AL East, the Baltimore Orioles hope Zach Britton's recent success on the road can help them end their struggles in Oakland.

The Orioles look to avoid a fourth consecutive road loss to the wild card-leading Athletics on Saturday night.

Rookie Yoenis Cespedes hit a two-run homer, Jonny Gomes delivered a go-ahead RBI single in the fifth inning and Oakland (83-61) turned four double plays to win for the seventh time in eight games, 3-2 over Baltimore on Friday.

Though the Orioles (81-63) remain tied with New York for the East lead, they have dropped 15 of 17 at Oakland since last winning a series there July 20-22, 2007.

''There are 15, 16 games after this. They're all important,'' manager Buck Showalter said. ''The ones we won in April were every bit as important. I know with the finish line in sight, it gets played out more often.''

The A's own a two-game wild-card lead over both the Orioles and Yankees. Prior to 2012, the last time Baltimore and Oakland met after the All-Star break each owning records above .500 was Sept. 2, 1992

"This is what it's about, it's going down to the wire," said Oakland third baseman Josh Donaldson, who is batting .346 (9 for 26) in the last eight games. "We're playing a good team in Baltimore and we feel we're a good team."

Baltimore hopes to bounce back behind Britton (5-2, 4.72 ERA), who has scattered 10 hits and struck out 13 over 14 scoreless innings to win his last two road starts. He is 3-1 with a 3.71 ERA in five road starts this season, and has not allowed a run in three of the last four.

Britton, however, is 1-1 with a 6.62 ERA in three starts versus Oakland. He allowed six runs in 5 2-3 innings while not factoring in the decision of a 14-9 home loss to the A's on July 27. In his only start at the Coliseum, Britton gave up six runs in 5 2-3 innings of a 6-4 loss May 29, 2011.

The left-hander allowed three runs over 28 2-3 innings while winning four straight starts before he gave up five and walked five in 3 1-3 innings of a 13-3 loss at New York on Sunday.

Cespedes, who injured his wrist during Thursday's 6-0 loss at Los Angeles, is 8 for 20 (.4009) with two home runs and seven RBIs in his last five games versus Baltimore.

"I'm going to rest after we get a championship,'' said Cespedes, who turns 27 next month. "I'm going to be in the lineup every day.''

Oakland's Jarrod Parker (10-8, 3.56) hopes for a better effort Saturday than his only other appearance against the Orioles in July when he allowed six runs and two homers in five innings of that 14-9 win versus Britton.

Parker has allowed three runs in 14 innings of his last two starts, most recently Monday when he gave up one run and four hits in seven innings of a 3-1 win at Los Angeles.

"It's fun," Parker said. "These are the kind of starts that we need.''

The right-hander has allowed two runs over 15 innings while splitting his last two home starts.

Chris Davis, whose only hit in three at-bats against Parker left the park, connected for his 26th home run Friday. The first baseman is batting .458 (11 for 24) with three homers and seven RBIs against the A's in 2012.

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