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Thu, Aug 16, 2012 - 8:10 PM ET
 

Athletics-Royals Preview

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The Oakland Athletics are struggling at the plate, but they'll look to change that against Kansas City's Luke Hochevar.

Hochevar tries a ninth time for his first career win over Oakland as the Royals seek to complete a three-game sweep Thursday night.

The Athletics (61-55) have fallen off the pace since their impressive July run helped them move into playoff contention. They remained 1 1/2 games back of the second AL wild-card spot following a 3-2 loss Wednesday.

With two outs in the seventh inning, Eric Hosmer, Lorenzo Cain and Chris Getz hit three straight doubles, with Cain scoring the go-ahead run for Kansas City.

"It stunk," said starter Brandon McCarthy, who was charged with the loss. "It was a bad loss for us across the board. These are games we expect to win and games we have been winning all year."

The loss was Oakland's third straight and seventh in 10 games. The A's were shut out on three hits Tuesday, and they've totaled five runs while hitting .175 during their current losing streak.

They struck out nine times Wednesday, ending a four-game streak with at least 10.

"I think at times you press a little bit when you get the opportunities and you're not getting them in," manager Bob Melvin told his team's official website. "We just have to go out there and try to win a game (Thursday)."

The struggling lineup is also dealing with injuries. Brandon Inge was placed on the disabled list Tuesday with a sprained right shoulder, and Josh Reddick was out of the lineup Wednesday due to issues following a tooth extraction Monday.

Reddick, who was in the lineup Tuesday and went 0 for 4 with three strikeouts, leads Oakland with 25 homers and 60 RBIs but is hitting .134 in his last 15 games.

As the A's try to avoid their first four-game losing streak since a nine-game skid May 22-June 1, facing Hochevar (7-10, 5.32 ERA) could help.

The right-hander fell to 0-7 with a 6.96 ERA in eight career starts versus Oakland on June 2, when he allowed six runs in 4 2-3 innings of a 9-3 defeat.

Hochevar was also knocked around Friday at Baltimore, giving up seven runs and three homers in 5 1-3 innings of a 7-1 loss.

"Three unexecuted pitches and that's what cost me," Hochevar told the Royals' official website. "That's all on me. I've got to execute better in big situations."

Kansas City (51-65) is looking to sweep Oakland for the first time since 2008. The Royals have won six of eight overall, with their staff posting a 2.70 ERA in that stretch.

Their lineup will get its first look at rookie Daniel Straily (0-0, 5.06), who is making his third major league start for Oakland.

After giving up one run over six innings against Toronto in his debut, the right-hander struggled against the Los Angeles Angels last Wednesday, surrendering five runs on four homers in 4 2-3 innings. He escaped without a decision when the Athletics rallied to win 9-8.

Tagged: Royals, Athletics, Luke Hochevar

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