Athletics-Angels preview

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Tim Lincecum returned to the majors last week after missing a year because of hip surgery, and he gave the Los Angeles Angels a big boost with a win over the Oakland A's.

Lincecum gave up one run in six innings to get the victory, and the news gets even better for the former two-time Cy Young award winner -- Thursday, he gets the A's again.

While his initial start for the Angels was certainly welcomed by an Angels team that has struggled with their starting pitching all year, it is tempered somewhat knowing it came against an A's team that has a woeful offense.

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Oakland averages 3.91 runs per game, the only team in the American League under 4 per game. They also rank dead last in the AL in runs, RBIs, on-base percentage and OPS.

"We're not consistent, that's an issue," A's manager Bob Melvin told "We'll score 15 runs when things are going well and everyone will get good swings up and down the lineup. And then we won't, and we'll have days where I think at times we probably swung at some pitches when we were ahead in some counts and got them out of some situations where there could have been more traffic.

"I think sometimes we're too eager to hit. You see our on-base percentage isn't good, last in the league. We don't walk enough."

The A's will send Kendall Graveman to the mound, a pitcher who hasn't won since May 30 but had an impressive start his last time out, holding the Angels to one run and three hits in seven innings of a 3-2 win.

Graves got a no-decision in that one, and Thursday it's likely he'll see an Angels lineup that will be without Albert Pujols for the third straight game.

Pujols missed his second game in a row Wednesday, marking the first time he's missed consecutive games in more than a year. He's dealing with a sore left hamstring, an injury suffered when trying to beat out a double play ball in Oakland on Sunday.

He's also dealing with a sore left ankle.

"When I'm good, I'm good, and I'm going to play," Pujols told Wednesday before the Angels' 3-2 loss to the Astros. "Right now I'm not going to take any chances. ... "I'm not going to force it."

The good news for the Angels is they still have Mike Trout in the lineup. Trout has started every game this season, 67 in center field and five as the designated hitter. His streak of 134 consecutive games started is the longest active streak in the majors.

Trout, who was the DH Wednesday with Pujols on the bench, uses the DH spot like a day off.

"If he needs it, he'll get it," Angels manager Mike Scioscia told when asked about giving Trout a day off. "But Mike feels that the DH day really serves the purpose. If he feels good in the box, he wants to keep swinging."