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Fri, Aug 17, 2012 - 10:05 PM ET
 

Indians-Athletics Preview

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The Oakland Athletics have admittedly been pressing at the plate recently, but a visit from the Cleveland Indians could help take the pressure off.

The Athletics open a six-game homestand Friday night with the first of three against the slumping Indians.

Oakland avoided a three-game sweep at Kansas City with a 3-0 win Thursday. Coco Crisp and Yoenis Cespedes homered to back rookie Daniel Straily's first major league win.

Crisp's home run in the sixth broke a scoreless tie and came following an umpire review.

"It felt we were starting to grind a little harder than we should,'' manager Bob Melvin said. "You start digging and it doesn't feel like anything is going to happen. At the time, that was certainly the key hit of the game and it ended up being the key hit."

The Athletics (62-55) scored two runs in the previous two games of the series and have struck out at least nine times in the last six games - the longest streak in franchise history.

Part of Oakland's offensive slump can be traced to Cespedes' lack of production. His homer Thursday was his first since July 28, also the date of his most recent extra-base hit.

The Athletics lineup could have an easier time against the Indians (54-64), who have fallen 10 games below .500, matching a season high, behind a struggling pitching staff.

Cleveland has dropped 12 of its last 13 road games, with those 12 losses coming by an average of 4.9 runs.

Tommy Milone (9-9, 3.91 ERA) will try to pitch Oakland to a third straight home win after receiving some extended rest this week.

After recording a 0.91 ERA through his first eight home starts, Milone struggled in the last two. He gave up five runs in six innings of a loss to Tampa Bay on July 31, then allowed six runs in six innings of a 6-5 defeat to Toronto on Aug. 5.

That was the third straight start overall in which he surrendered at least five runs.

Looking to rest the rookie left-hander, Oakland pushed back his start, with Milone originally scheduled to have pitched last Saturday.

"It's a mental grind once you get to this time of the year," Melvin told the Athletics' official website. "Tommy's last few games haven't been his best, but it really isn't about that. We've been looking to potentially do this for a while now."

Milone faces a Cleveland team that lost the final two games of its three-game series against the Los Angeles Angels this week.

Roberto Hernandez struggled in his season debut Wednesday, allowing eight runs over six innings in an 8-4 loss. He wasn't helped by his defense, which committed three errors during a five-run second, including two by recently acquired Brent Lillibridge.

"We won the second half of the game. But you have to play nine innings, and unfortunately the second inning killed us," manager Manny Acta said. "Hernandez threw the ball a lot better than his numbers indicated. He deserved better. But we played terrible defense behind him."

The Indians won two of three in Oakland in April and has taken eight of the last 11 meetings overall.

They'll turn to Zach McAllister (5-4, 3.46) hoping the right-hander can win a second consecutive start.

McAllister gave up two runs and three hits over a career-high eight innings in a 5-2 win over Boston on Saturday. That was in stark contrast to his previous appearance when he failed to make it out of the second inning in a 14-3 loss to Minnesota.

Tagged: Indians, Athletics

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