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Sat, Sep 7, 2013 - 4:05 PM ET
 

Astros-Athletics Preview

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After picking up another win against baseball's worst team, the Oakland Athletics find themselves in sole possession of first place in the AL West.

The Athletics try to continue their playoff push Saturday night when they play the third of four against the visiting Houston Astros.

Oakland (81-60) has mostly had Houston's number, going 18-5 in the all-time series. The A's took this season's first 10 matchups by a 72-34 margin before dropping four of six, but they are coming off Friday's 7-5 victory.

That win, combined with Texas' 6-5 loss to the Los Angeles Angels, gave Oakland a one-half game lead over the Rangers for the division lead.

"It doesn't matter until the end of the season, we know that too well," said Donaldson, who went 3 for 5 with a two-run homer and career-high three runs. "We're really not trying to focus on it right now. We're trying to take care of our business."

Oakland, which had eight of nine starters collect at least one hit, and five different players drive in at least one run, has hit .303, averaged 5.8 runs and clubbed 18 homers in winning nine of 12.

"That shows that we have multiple ways that we can score runs," Donaldson added. "That's what it takes. If you're going to score seven, eight runs, it's not all the time going to come by the long ball. It's going to come by guys manufacturing and having good approaches at the plate."

The A's will try to stay hot behind Dan Straily (8-7, 4.38), who is looking to win a career-high third consecutive start. After throwing six innings of one-run ball in a 14-4 victory at Detroit on Aug. 28, Straily allowed two runs and three hits in five innings to beat Texas 4-2 on Monday.

"You come out there and understand the magnitude of the situation, and you're very determined to get the job done," he said.

Straily baffled Houston (47-94) in his only start in the series, yielding two runs and striking out a career-high 11 over 6 2-3 innings in an 8-3 road victory April 5.

He may need to come out with another superb showing pitching opposite rookie Brett Oberholtzer (4-1, 2.79), who has compiled a 1.98 ERA in six starts since joining the rotation July 31.

The left-hander breezed through Seattle's lineup in Sunday's 2-0 win, throwing 83 of his season-high 113 pitches for strikes in a four-hitter - Houston's first complete game of the season.

"Right away I could tell he was really trusting his stuff," catcher Jason Castro told MLB's official website. "He's got a good idea of what he's doing out there. He was pounding the strike zone, getting ahead and able to do more. That plays a big role in keeping the pitch count down."

While his stuff isn't overpowering, Oberholtzer is able to keep hitters off balance with a deceiving changeup.

"With his fastball at 90 mph, it's not the typical 90," Mariners second baseman Nick Franklin said. "It's a little sneaky."

Oberholtzer will need to be careful against Donaldson, who is 8 for 18 with two homers, four doubles and five RBIs in his last four games. The third baseman is batting .486 with two homers, five RBIs and 10 runs during a 10-game span versus Houston.

Astros relievers have compiled a 6.00 ERA in the team's 3-8 stretch.

Castro went 0 for 5 as the designated hitter Friday, his first game back after missing three due to a right knee injury. The All-Star is mired in a 3-for-16 slump.

Tagged: Athletics, Astros

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