Parker hopes to get on track as A's battle Rays

Oakland right-hander Jarrod Parker hopes to put his slow start behind him on Saturday night as the Athletics continue a three-game series with the Tampa Bay Rays.

Parker went 13-8 with a 3.47 earned run average in 29 starts as a rookie last season, but the 24-year-old has gone 0-2 with a 10.80 ERA through his first three outings of 2013. He has sandwiched his two losses around a no-decision and has lasted just 3 1/3 innings in each of his past two starts.

The 2007 first-round pick was touched for eight runs on nine hits and two walks in a 10-1 setback to the Detroit Tigers on Sunday.

"Parker was trying to pound the zone early on with the fastball. He was, but they were just hitting. It's puzzling when he gets hit because his stuff is so good," A's manager Bob Melvin said.

Looking for his first career victory over the Rays, Parker went 0-1 with a 4.50 ERA in two starts against them last year.

Rays starter Jeremy Hellickson is also looking to beat his opponent for the first time as he is 0-1 with a 5.40 ERA in four previous meetings with the A's.

The 26-year-old righty is seeking his first win of 2013, but has been getting better as the season has gone on. He yielded five runs over 6 1/3 innings of a no-decision versus Baltimore on April 3, lost in Texas five days later after giving up three runs over five innings and was solid on Monday at Boston in a no-decision.

Hellickson held the Red Sox to a pair of runs over seven innings of his club's 3-2 loss, fanning nine. He did, however, allow his fourth homer already this season.

The Rays will hope to string together back-to-back wins for only the second time this season after taking Friday's opener with the A's 8-3 thanks to some early offense.

Jose Lobaton drove in a pair of runs during Tampa Bay's four-run first inning, while Evan Longoria added a two-run homer later in the game. Ben Zobrist also drove in a pair of runs in the victory, just the Rays' third in 11 games as they were coming off a 2-7 road trip.

They haven't won back-to-back games since beating Cleveland on April 5-6.

Alex Cobb made the offense stick by scattering three runs and 10 hits over 7 1/3 innings to get the victory.

"I had a bunch of pitches working for me tonight and that let me keep them off balance," said Cobb. "They're an aggressive team at the plate and when you can get strikes on them early that opens things up for you on the mound."

Oakland starter Brett Anderson lasted just one inning due to a strained right ankle, allowing four runs on four hits and two walks while needing 36 pitches to get through the first frame. Evan Scribner followed Anderson and also gave up four runs over three innings as the A's had their three-game winning streak snapped.

"I thought he was more aggressive today but they hit some pitches and he got behind in the count with some hitters," said Oakland manager Bob Melvin about Anderson. "It was just a tough night for him and they're going to happen."

The setback was just Oakland's third in its past 15 games and the first in seven on the road this season.

Jed Lowrie went 4-for-4 with an RBI to highlight Oakland's offense. Lowrie and Brandon Moss both recorded run-scoring singles in the top of the first, but the Rays never trailed after plating four runs in their half of the inning.

Oakland was 5-4 against the Rays last season.