The Oakland Athletics have won each of Bartolo Colon's last seven starts and hope that trend continues Friday in the opener of a three- game series versus the St. Louis Cardinals.
Colon is 7-0 with a 1.41 earned run average over his torrid stretch and pitched well in last Friday's 6-3 win at Seattle, where he allowed three runs in eight innings with four strikeouts and two walks. The A's have scored at least six runs in each of Colon's last four starts and have reached that mark six times during the right-hander's unbeaten stretch.
"I'm mixing up my pitches better than before," Colon said through his translator. "I've always been a fastball guy, but mixing it up like I have, that's a reason."
The veteran Colon is 10-2 with a 2.93 ERA in 15 starts this season and 4-0 in seven trips to the Coliseum mound. Colon has made three career starts against St. Louis, going 1-0 with a 5.06 ERA. He is trying to become the second American League pitcher to win 11 games this season.
Oakland opened an eight-game homestand by sweeping a two-game series from the Cincinnati Reds and is coming off Wednesday's 5-0 win. A.J. Griffin tossed his first career shutout and held the Reds to two hits with seven strikeouts and a pair of walks. It was Griffin's first victory since May 25 and it snapped a five-start winless streak.
"It's really easy to call a game for a guy that's executing every pitch," Oakland catcher Stephen Vogt said. "He was absolutely outstanding. No one really squared the ball up. There was maybe one ball hit hard today. That's pretty special, especially against a lineup like the Reds."
Josh Donaldson hit a three-run homer during a four-run fourth inning for the A's, who have won three of five games and improved to 24-12 at home. The Athletics are just one-half game behind Texas in the AL West standings.
Athletics center fielder Coco Crisp was not in the starting lineup Wednesday to attend a family matter and is expected to be back Friday.
St. Louis split a two-game set at Houston to begin an eight-game trip and dropped a 4-3 decision on Wednesday. Lance Lynn was aiming for his 11th win of the season, but was touched for four runs and five hits in 7 2/3 innings. Lynn was victimized by a four-run fourth inning by the Astros to fall to 10-2.
"It just goes to show that one bad inning can hurt you," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "He did a really good job before and after that inning, but they were able to get to him in that one frame there."
Yadier Molina and Allen Craig both homered for the Cardinals, losers in four of their last five games. The Cardinals sit tied with surging Pittsburgh for the NL Central lead with Cincinnati 3 1/2 games behind and are in the midst of 11 straight games against the American League (1-4).
Shelby Miller gets the call for the Cards Friday and looks to get back in the win column. Miller had won three of four starts until last Saturday's 4-2 loss to Texas and gave up four runs and eight hits in 5 2/3 frames, falling to 8-5 in 15 starts to go along with a 2.35 ERA.
Miller, a right-hander, is 3-3 in seven road assignments and has never faced the Athletics.
The Cardinals won two of three meetings with the A's in 2010 at Busch Stadium. St. Louis also won a three-game set the last time the club was in Oakland back in 2007.