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A's try to break out against Reds' Bailey

The Oakland Athletics are hoping to see the Homer Bailey they faced at home back on June 26 and not the one that took the mound six days later, when the Cincinnati hurler tossed the second no-hitter of his career.

Bailey hopes to stay on the winning track Wednesday afternoon when the Reds wrap a quick two-game set versus Bartolo Colon and the Athletics.

The right-handed Bailey took a loss versus Oakland in that late June meeting, allowing four runs on six hits and two walks over six innings, giving him a split of two career meetings with the A's along with a 3.46 earned run average.

Bailey was then near perfect at home on July 2 versus San Francisco, allowing one walk in a 3-0 win, but struggled to four straight losses following the no- hitter.

He finally broke through last Wednesday in San Diego, taking a shutout into the ninth inning of a 4-1 win over the Padres. Bailey allowed six hits, including a one-out RBI double to Chase Headley in the ninth. The 27-year-old was lifted after allowing that unearned run, with Aroldis Chapman recording the final two outs to save the victory for Bailey.

"I felt fine," said Bailey, who struck out seven while improving to 6-10 with a 3.55 ERA in 22 starts this season. "I definitely wish I could have finished that one, but we've got a pretty good closer coming in behind me."

Bailey faces a big challenge today in squaring off against Colon, who is 14-3 with a 2.50 ERA in 22 starts this season.

Though not as sharp as usual last time out, the 40-year-old still held Toronto to a pair of runs -- one earned -- on seven hits and three walks over six innings on Wednesday in a no-decision. He managed his 15th straight quality start despite throwing only 53 of his 97 pitches for strikes and the A's went on to lose in extra innings.

"Sometimes you're behind in the count and you try to make the best pitches possible and you just can't," said Colon on Oakland's website. "That's what happened today."

Colon still became the first A's pitcher since at least 1916 to throw six or more innings and allow three runs or fewer in 15 consecutive starts, and he'll try to extend that streak in his first meeting with the Reds since June 14, 2007 while with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

In three lifetime meetings with the Reds, the right-handed Colon is 3-0 with a 2.37 ERA.

Colon may feel some added pressure given Oakland's recent offensive struggles. The A's are just 8-9 since the All-Star break, hitting .225 and averaging 3.5 runs per game over that time.

The Athletics were nearly shut out for a second game in a row on Tuesday before Derek Norris hit a pinch-hit homer off Chapman in the ninth inning of a 3-1 setback.

Oakland was almost blanked for the third time on its current 1-5 slide and went 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position.

"We're not swinging our bats, there's no doubt about that," Athletics manager Bob Melvin said. "We just have to grind through it."

Oakland's current struggles have shrunk its lead for first place in the AL West to just a game over Texas.

Cincinnati, meanwhile, remained 6 1/2 games back of the top spot in the NL Central and had lost seven of nine before taking last night's opener.

Mat Latos hurled 7 1/3 scoreless innings, Jay Bruce hit a solo homer and Shin- Soo Choo had a pair of hits and scored twice.

"It didn't matter how we won today. We just needed a win," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "We have to build on it."

The A's are wrapping their first ever visit to Great American Ball Park, having lost played in Cincinnati during the 2002 season. Oakland is 10-5 all- time versus the Reds, sweeping a two-game set at home from June 25-26.