The Tampa Bay Rays are leading the American League's wild card chase, but are inching closer to first place in the AL East as well.
They could make up more ground on Friday if Matt Moore can continue his unbeaten streak in the middle portion of a three-game series against the Oakland Athletics, who are one of a handful of teams also battling for a playoff spot.
Moore takes the hill having gone 4-0 with a 1.16 earned run average over his last five starts and is coming off a win over the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim on Sunday. The young left-hander scattered a pair of solo homers over 6 1/3 innings, moving to 10-7 with a 3.57 earned run average in 24 starts.
"It's a different game when you have early run support," Moore said following the 8-3 win. "I was able to attack with a few more fastballs. I was happy with the tempo and the way things went."
The 23-year-old Moore got a rough introduction to this series back on May 6, when he faced the Athletics for the first time. He was roughed up for eight runs on seven hits and three walks in 4 2/3 frames, giving up five runs in the third.
The Rays, who currently hold the first wild card spot in the league, pulled to within 2 1/2 games of the AL East-leading New York Yankees with a 5-0 win over the A's in Thursday's opener. Alex Cobb bounced back from a rough outing to log his first career shutout.
Cobb was touched for a career high-tying eight runs in a loss to the Angels before holding Oakland to four hits and two walks with eight strikeouts.
"There was just an excitement all week," Cobb said. "I'm really happy I felt that way toward it instead of being scared and wonder if I'm going to get hit around again."
While Tampa Bay improved to 16-5 in August and won for the seventh time in eight games, Oakland lost for just the second time in eight games. That has the club tied with the Baltimore Orioles and Detroit Tigers for the second wild card position.
The Rays did all their damage in the fifth inning, scoring five runs off Oakland starter Tyson Ross, who was recalled from Triple-A to start in place of Bartolo Colon. The veteran began serving a 50-game suspension on Wednesday after violating the league's drug policy by testing positive for testosterone.
The A's now turn to their own youngster in 23-year-old Jarrod Parker, who bounced back from a three-game slide in a big way with a win over the Cleveland Indians on Sunday.
Parker hurled eight scoreless innings of six-hit ball, getting his first win since July 21 while improving to 8-7 with a 3.48 ERA in 21 games this season.
The right-hander didn't allow a run after watching Oakland score just once over his three-game losing streak, one that began with a 4-1 defeat to the visiting Rays on Aug. 1. Parker yielded three runs over six innings in that one.
Oakland and Tampa Bay split their first six meetings in 2012 prior to this series.
This series will conclude Saturday because the Rays' Tropicana Field is going to host a party for the Republican National Convention on Sunday