Oakland Athletics (73-48) at Atlanta Braves (61-60), 7:35 p.m. (ET)
08/15/2014 7:38 AM
08/15/2014 7:41 AM
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Oakland Athletics and Atlanta Braves will get a rare up-close look at one another on Friday when they begin a three-game interleague series at Turner Field.
Oakland continues to hold down the best record in the majors at 73-48, although the team has lost four of five after stumbling in Kansas City this week.
The A's were on the wrong end of a 7-3 final in Thursday's series finale. Jeff Samardzija allowed four runs (3 earned) and eight hits over 6 1/3 frames. Alberto Callaspo had a pair of RBI in the loss, while Josh Reddick doubled and tripled.
All-Star first baseman Brandon Moss has begun to hit his way out of a recent slump, as he tied a career-high with four hits in Tuesday's 11-3 win over Kansas City, then went 2-for-5 on Thursday after sitting out Wednesday's game. Prior to that, he was batting .100 over the first nine games of August.
Moss said he has been pitched differently of late, but claimed it has nothing to do with slugger Yoenis Cespedes being traded to Boston.
"If anything, it's because of me," Moss said earlier this week. "I feel like I've been pitched a little differently for a while, but that isn't because of who is in front or behind me. That's because when I'm starting to struggle, my thinking has been, 'You can't walk your way out of a slump. You have to figure it out and you have to hit.' So when I get into a slump, I'm the type that gets more aggressive. All it does is open more holes, and then I can't even hit to my strengths.
"It could've been Cespy, Mark McGwire, Jose Canseco hitting in front of me, behind me, it didn't matter."
Looking ahead to the three-game set in Atlanta, A's manager Bob Melvin said the coaching staff was busy scouring through scouting reports.
"One of those teams you probably know as little about as any other team," Melvin said. "You don't play them in spring, we haven't seen them here since I've been here. You obviously take a harder look at your scouting reports and try to get a good feel for that team. The first day, you get a better sense of what they're trying to do, but you try to combat that with your scouting stuff."
Atlanta is six games back of Washington in the National League East and is just three games off the pace for the league's second wild card spot. The Braves hosted the Los Angeles Dodgers this week and lost three of four.
The Braves were dealt a 6-4 loss in Thursday's series finale. They put together a late rally with three runs in the eighth inning off reliever Brian Wilson, but Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen entered and shut the door with a four-out save. Atlanta starter Aaron Harang lasted just 4 1/3 innings and gave up five runs on seven hits. He walked three and struck out three.
The Braves will turn to Alex Wood for Friday's opener. The southpaw racked up a career-high 12 strikeouts on 124 pitches to earn the victory against Washington in his last start, holding the Nationals to just one run in 7 1/3 innings.
Wood has posted a 1.33 ERA across 20 1/3 innings over his last three starts. In eight interleague appearances (three starts), he has a 2.10 ERA.
After turning in a shaky first four starts since being traded to Oakland, starting pitcher Jason Hammel appears to have found a comfort zone. He pitched 5 2/3 shutout innings against Tampa Bay on Aug. 5, then followed that up with 6 1/3 frames of one-run ball against Minnesota on Sunday as he allowed just four hits.
However, Hammel owns a 5.68 ERA in seven career starts against Atlanta.
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