Athletics, Orioles meet in matchup of playoff hopefuls

A pair of playoff hopefuls clash Friday at Camden Yards as the Oakland Athletics open a three-game series against the Baltimore Orioles.

The Athletics currently occupy one of the final two wild card spots in the American League and are 2 1/2 games behind Texas for the AL West lead. Baltimore is three games off a wild card spot and 5 1/2 behind Boston for the top spot in the AL East.

Oakland will begin a seven-game road trip in Baltimore and just went 4-5 on a recent homestand, which was capped with two losses in three matchups with the Seattle Mariners. In Wednesday's 5-3 loss to the Mariners, Oakland blew a 3-1 lead and surrendered four unanswered runs.

Brandon Moss and Coco Crisp both homered and Yoenis Cespedes finished 2-for-4 with a run scored for the A's. A.J. Griffin got the start for Oakland and allowed four runs in six innings to take the loss.

"Everything that we did today is what's wrong with us," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "We didn't add on early, we didn't make big pitches when we had to, we didn't come through in situational at-bats. Ugly, ugly game for us and it's been going on for awhile."

Oakland addressed its catching depth by trading for Washington's Kurt Suzuki, who spent the first 5 1/2 seasons of his career with the A's. He is batting just .223 with three homers and 25 RBI.

Dan Straily tries to end his winless streak when he takes the mound for Oakland Friday. He is 0-5 with a 4.09 earned run average in his last six starts and took the loss in last Saturday's 7-1 setback to Cleveland. He allowed three runs in 5 2/3 innings with seven K's and a season high-tying four walks.

Straily, a right-hander, is 6-7 in 20 starts to go along with a 4.22 ERA and lost his only career start against Baltimore last Sept. 16, when he surrendered four runs in 4 2/3 innings of a 9-5 loss.

Baltimore has won three of five games since losing four in a row and will continue a nine-game homestand (3-3) Friday.

The Orioles salvaged the finale of a three-game series versus the Tampa Bay Rays with Wednesday's 4-2 win behind starter Wei-Yin Chen, who delivered seven innings of two-run ball for the win. Tommy Hunter later came on to post his fourth save with a scoreless ninth.

Chris Davis hit his major league-leading 46th home run and Adam Jones went deep for the 26th time. Nate McLouth was 2-for-4 with a run scored for the Orioles.

"It was a big win," O's catcher Matt Wieters said. "You'd like to get a series, but the only thing would could tonight was to win one game. Wei-Yin threw the ball great and we were able to get enough runs and give him some support."

Bud Norris will take the mound for the Orioles Friday and he is 3-1 with a 3.91 ERA in five games (4 starts) since coming over via a trade with the Houston Astros. The right-hander is 0-2 with a 7.82 ERA in three career starts against the Athletics.

The Orioles won three of four games in Oakland from April 25-28 this season.