Scherzer eyes 20th win, as Tigers try to stave off A's brooms

Max Scherzer takes aim at his 20th win of the season on Thursday and tries to help the Detroit Tigers salvage the finale of their four-game series with the Oakland Athletics at Comerica Park.

Scherzer improved to 6-0 and lowered his ERA to 1.48 in seven starts since the All-Star break on Saturday in New York, as he held the Mets scoreless over six innings. He also struck out 11 to run his record to 19-1 on the year to go along with a 2.73 ERA.

With a win on Thursday Scherzer would become the first pitcher to start a campaign 20-1 since Roger Clemens in 2001.

"For me, every time I go out, I seem to pitch well," Scherzer said. "Everybody through the lineup plays well every time I take the mound, and that's the reason I'm 19-1 - not because I'm pitching well."

Scherzer, who's received an MLB-best 7.32 run-support average, is 2-1 in five starts versus the A's with a 3.24 ERA.

Oakland will counter with an impressive hurler of its own in Bartolo Colon, who hasn't pitched since Aug. 13 because of a groin strain. However, the hefty right-hander is 14-5 on the year with a 2.97 ERA.

Colon, though, lost his last two starts and allowed 10 runs in 6 2/3 innings of those outings before being placed on the disabled list.

"He pitched in the All-Star Game, he's got 14 wins, he was one of the best pitchers in baseball in the first half of the season, so it stung us a bit when we did lose him to the DL, and we're excited about getting him back," said A's manager Bob Melvin. "Any time you have that kind of quality coming back, it feels like you've made an acquisition."

Oakland continued to make life difficult for Detroit on Wednesday, as Brandon Moss continued his power surge with a pair of homers and a career-high six RBI and the A's banged out 14 hits in a 14-4 thrashing of the Tigers.

"We did a good job of not wasting opportunities," Moss said. "We put together good at-bats. We didn't just go up there trying to do too much. Everybody stayed within themselves. That definitely builds some confidence."

Dan Straily pitched six innings of one-run ball to win for the first time in seven weeks, as the Athletics stayed within 2 1/2 games of first-place Texas in the AL West. Straily (7-7), who had been 0-5 with a 5.20 ERA in seven previous starts since he was recalled from Sacramento July 20, gave up eight hits, including a third-inning homer from Torii Hunter.

Josh Donaldson, Jed Lowrie, Alberto Callaspo and Kurt Suzuki each had three hits for the A's, who haven't pulled off a four-game sweep in Detroit since turning the trick from Aug. 3-6, 2001.

Doug Fister (11-7) was pegged for 13 hits and seven runs over five innings for the AL Central leaders, who have given up 28 runs so far in this series.

"They were definitely putting pressure on us," Fister said.

The Tigers won two of three in Oakland back in April and had claimed five of the previous seven meetings prior to this series.