While the Oakland Athletics hold the wild-card lead in the AL, their recent success also has them in good position to challenge for the top spot in the West.
The A's look to complete a series sweep with a fifth consecutive home win over the Baltimore Orioles , owner of the second wild-card spot, on Sunday.
Winners in 23 of 29, the A's have a three-game wild-card lead over the Orioles (81-64) and are two back of first-place Texas in the West. Oakland, which has not reached the postseason since 2006, still has seven games left with the Rangers."It's kind of crazy how this team works sometimes," said Drew, whose homer is the only hit in his last 17 at-bats. "It's a good feeling to have, anybody, anytime. It works out well."
Looking to avoid its first three-game skid since July 23-25, Baltimore has been held to two runs in each of the first two games of this set. The Orioles have averaged 3.1 runs while losing 16 of 18 in Oakland. They jumped ahead 2-0 Saturday before the A's broke out in the fifth."No one in this clubhouse is down," Baltimore outfielder Adam Jones said. "The last few days we've been beat. I don't think we've beaten ourselves. We just can't score enough runs."
Hoping to prevent the A's from a sweep is Randy Wolf (2-0, 5.68 ERA), who makes his first start for the Orioles after coming out of the bullpen three times since they acquired him Aug. 31.
The 36-year-old Wolf went 3-10 with a 5.69 ERA in 25 games - 24 starts - for Milwaukee this season before the Brewers released him Aug. 22. After allowing four runs, four hits and three walks in 6 1-3 innings out of the bullpen for the Orioles, Wolf makes his first start since he yielded five runs and 10 hits in seven innings of an 8-0 loss to Philadelphia on Aug. 19.
"Coming here you kind of feel a little rejuvenated and excited," Wolf told the Orioles' official website. "I think those exciting feelings and rejuvenating feelings are enhanced when you get the call to make the start (Sunday)."
Wolf is 1-0 with a 2.77 ERA in two starts versus Oakland, the most recent for the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2009.
Oakland counters with rookie Dan Straily (2-0, 3.42), who looks for a third straight winning start when he makes the fifth of his career and first appearance versus Baltimore. The right-hander allowed three runs, two homers and struck out eight in 6 2-3 innings of a 6-5 win at Los Angeles on Tuesday.
Oakland right fielder Josh Reddick , who had two of his team's five hits Saturday, is 10 for 30 with four RBIs against the Orioles this season.
Baltimore designated hitter Chris Davis had two hits, and is batting .444 (16 for 36) during a 10-game hitting streak against Oakland.
|September 11, 2012||Jason Hammel||Day-to-Day||Left game - right knee injury|
|September 09, 2012||Nick Markakis||Day-to-Day||Broken left thumb|
|September 02, 2012||Chris Tillman||Day-to-Day||Left game - stiff right elbow|
|August 22, 2012||Matt Wieters||Day-to-Day||Left game - right shoulder contusion|
|August 13, 2012||Troy Patton||15-Day DL||Sprained right ankle|
|August 12, 2012||Wilson Betemit||15-Day DL||Sore right wrist|
|September 05, 2012||Brandon McCarthy||Day-to-Day||Left game - head injury|
|September 02, 2012||Brandon Inge||Day-to-Day||Dislocated right shoulder|
|September 02, 2012||Brandon Inge||15-Day DL||Strained right shoulder|
|August 18, 2012||Jordan Norberto||15-Day DL||Left shoulder tendinitis|
|August 12, 2012||Brandon Inge||15-Day DL||Dislocated right shoulder|
|August 12, 2012||Brandon Inge||15-Day DL||Dislocated right shoulder|
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- Baltimore manager Buck Showalter had a meeting with his coaches to decide whether to start catcher Matt Wieters in Sunday's series finale.
"It was a short conversation," Showalter said. "Matt means a lot to us and we like his presence in the lineup."
Wieters hit two solo home runs and Endy Chavez had four hits to help the Orioles beat the Oakland Athletics 9-5 on Sunday and remain within a game of the New York Yankees in the AL East.
"I'm finally putting the barrel on a few balls," Wieters said. "That's something you are always working on and once the game comes around you have to let it go."
Chavez drove in two runs for the Orioles, who have won four of six in snapping a three-game road losing streak. J.J. Hardy, Mark Reynolds , Manny Machado , Chris Davis and Robert Andino also drove in runs.
"Every game right now is a must win," Wieters said. "This is a tough place to win. To be able to get one, we'll take it, move on to Seattle and try to win a couple up there."
Josh Reddick , who drove in three runs, and Stephen Drew hit two-run home runs for the Athletics, who are two games ahead of the Orioles for the first wild-card spot. Adam Rosales had two hits.
"When you win the first two games you want to get greedy and take that third game." A's manager Bob Melvin said. "We're playing it day to day but going into this series you got a chance to take two of three from a good team like that you'll take it. Especially after the first inning, scoring a couple of runs on Reddick's home run, we really thought we had a chance to win this game as well."
Brian Matusz (6-10) retired all six batters he faced, two on strikeouts, to earn the victory. Jim Johnson got the last out for his 43rd save.
A's starter Dan Straily (2-1) lasted 4 2-3 innings, giving up four runs and five hits. He walked five and struck out one.
"I made a lot of mistakes," Straily said. "I left a lot of balls up, and that's as many walks as I've ever given up in my life. I was just out of character."
Straily's effort ended the 44-game streak in which A's pitchers had walked three or fewer batters.
Randy Wolf went four innings in his first start for the Orioles following three relief appearances. He gave up two runs and six hits, walked two and struck out four in his longest outing since going seven for Milwaukee in a loss to Philadelphia on Aug. 19.
"He's a veteran pitcher and knows how to pitch," Wieters said. "No one was too concerned when they got the two runs early. He had a shutdown inning after that and gave us two more good innings."
Wolf threw 72 pitches.
"He was our best option and kept us in the game," Showalter said. "A veteran like that knows how to minimize the damage."
Reddick's 29th home run, a two-run shot into the bleachers in right field, gave the A's a 2-0 lead in the first.
Wieters' first homer, with one out in the second, cut the lead in half. His fourth-inning home run put the Orioles ahead to stay.
Hardy's RBI single in the third tied it. Reynolds walked with the bases loaded in the fifth and Chavez's two-run single followed Machado's RBI double in the seventh.
Drew's two-run homer in the eighth made it 7-4.
Andino and Davis drove in runs for the Orioles in the ninth. Reddick added an RBI for the A's in the ninth.
Notes: Orioles' LHP Troy Patton (ankle) pitched an inning in instructional league Sunday. He's slated to pitch at least once more and could rejoin the team next weekend. ... A's OF Coco Crisp was out of the lineup with an allergic reaction in his left eye. ... O's DH Jim Thome (neck) is scheduled to play in simulated games Monday and Tuesday. ... RHP Chris Tillman (7-2, 3.39) goes for the Orioles in Seattle on Monday night. He's 3-0 with an 0.83 ERA in three starts against his former team. ... RHP A.J. Griffin (6-0, 1.94) will pitch for the A's in Detroit on Tuesday. He's the only ML pitcher since at least 1918 to allow three runs or fewer and walk two or less in each of his first 11 starts. ... Of Weiters' 21 homers, 12 have been solo shots. ... A's OF Yoenis Cespedes played CF for just the second time. ... The A's tied a season-high by using seven pitchers.