Bartolo Colon tries to win his ninth consecutive start on Wednesday when the Oakland Athletics play the middle test of their three-game series with the Chicago Cubs at O.co Coliseum.
Colon has been magnificent over the course of the streak, allowing more than two runs just once in that span and pitching to a 1.79 ERA. The burly righty was again on the mark Friday against St. Louis, as he gave up a run and six hits in eight innings to run his record to 11-2, while lowering his ERA to 2.79.
The win made him just the second A's pitcher since 1991 to record 11 wins before the end of June.
"I don't expect anything less now," teammate Josh Donaldson said. "He's just one of those guys who goes out there and gives us a chance to win. He's been dominant. It hasn't even been a question."
Colon is 0-1 in four starts versus the Cubs with a 5.33 ERA.
Chicago, meanwhile, will counter with an equally impressive right-hander in Matt Garza, who is 3-1 with a 3.83 ERA. Garza won his second straight start on Thursday in Milwaukee and gave up just a run and eight hits in seven innings.
He has allowed just two runs in his last three starts, spanning 22 frames.
"I like where I'm at, and I'm just going to try to keep improving," said Garza.
Garza is 1-3 in five games (4 starts) against the A's with a 3.09 ERA.
Garza is likely auditioning for other teams each time he takes the ball. The Cubs started their wheeling and dealing on Tuesday, as the team sent troubled reliever Carlos Marmol to the Los Angeles Dodgers, while also shipping starter Scott Feldman to the Baltimore Orioles.
"Somebody asked me, 'Well, do you sit by your phone?'" Garza said. "I said, 'No.' No phone calls. No worries, guys. I'm not too worried about it, just going to keep plugging away every five days."
Chicago then went out and lost the opener of its set with Oakland, as Derek Norris' go-ahead three-run home run in the eighth propelled the Athletics to an 8-7 win.
Donaldson hit a two-run homer and Chris Young added a solo shot for Oakland, which was able to prevail despite starter A.J. Griffin allowing seven runs on 10 hits over 5 2/3 frames.
Welington Castillo had two hits and drove in three runs, while Alfonso Soriano hit a three-run homer for the Cubs, who lost for only the second time in their last six tries in their first ever regular season visit to Oakland.
Chicago took two of three from the A's the last time these teams met back in 2010.