A's, Rays resume series at the Trop

(SportsNetwork.com) - The Oakland Athletics and Tampa Bay Rays will tangle in the third game of a four-game set Saturday at Tropicana Field as the Athletics look to dig their way out of the American League West basement.

They'll send starter Kyle Graveman to the mound, who is looking to tame a lofty earned run average. The Rays will counter with Nathan Karns, who hits the hill in search of his fourth win.

Graveman, the 24-year-old righty from Mississippi State, has made four starts for the Athletics this season, and only one has ultimately been successful. He enters this contest Saturday sporting a 1-2 record with an 8.27 earned run average.

He got the start for Oakland back on April 14 and cruised through 5 1/3 innings against Houston, allowing only four hits with no earned runs. But in his other three starts, he's 0-2 and has only lasted as long as 4 2/3 innings in a single contest, surrendering a combined 15 runs in 11 innings.

In two starts on the road this year, however, Graveman is 1-0 with a 2.16 ERA.

Karns, a 2009 12th-round draft pick by the Washington Nationals, is off to a hot start on the new year. He currently owns a 3-1 record with a 3.77 ERA and 44 strikeouts. After a stretch of four consecutive no-decisions from April 17 to May 3, Karns has picked up wins in his last two starts.

In each of those last two outings, Karns has given up two runs apiece. His latest stint was a five-inning stretch against the Yankees, in which he surrendered seven hits in Tampa's 3-2 victory on May 13.

He was given some time of recently due to concerns about his high workload.

The Rays took Friday night's contest by a 5-2 margin, and beat up on former Tampa pitcher Scott Kazmir in the process. Kazmir got the starting nod for Oakland, and gave up eight hits and three runs (two earned) in 5 2/3 innings of work against his former team. He was hit with the loss, and is now 2-3 on the season.

Chris Archer, meanwhile, had a strong outing in which he gave up six hits and just one run in 5 1/3 innings on the mound, adding eight strikeouts to his resume.

The A's seized control first when Stephen Vogt clobbered his 10th home run of the season in the fourth inning. But it was all downhill from there.

Evan Longoria blasted his fifth homer of the season in the fifth which plated three, while Steven Souza Jr. and Tim Beckham had solo homers in the seventh and eighth innings, respectively, to give the Rays the edge.

Vogt and Billy Butler provided the only run support for the struggling Athletics in Friday night's defeat.

Oakland took four of six meetings against Tampa Bay last season. The Rays have already matched their win total against the A's from last year in the past two nights alone.