Athletics at Rays game preview

Although they’ve been putting up some big numbers offensively, the Oakland Athletics could be scrapping for runs in a potential pitcher’s duel in the opener of a three-game set against the Tampa Bay Rays.

As Oakland’s Drew Pomeranz and Tampa Bay’s Jake Odorizzi look to extend scoreless streaks, the A’s go for their 10th win in 11 games while dealing the Rays their eighth loss in nine home contests Tuesday night.

AL West-leading Oakland (28-16), which leads the league with 235 runs, has gone 19 for 57 (.333) with runners in scoring position while totaling 43 runs over its last five games.

The A’s finished with seven doubles on the way to their top scoring outburst of the season Sunday, a 13-3 victory that gave them a three-game sweep in Cleveland. Brandon Moss led the way with a triple, two doubles and three RBI, boosting his average to .389 with five home runs and 18 RBI over his last 14 games.

Josh Reddick also has been on a tear with three homers and 11 RBI in his last six games, while Josh Donaldson has three homers and 11 RBI in his last eight.

”I would just use the word confident,” Moss said. ”Everybody’s going up there and taking good swings. We have guys who put together some good at-bats who have some pop. That usually leads to runs.”

Oakland, though, could be without Jed Lowrie after the shortstop left Sunday’s contest because of a strained neck.

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The A’s appear to be facing a difficult test as they continue a nine-game trip against the last-place Rays (19-26). Odorizzi (2-3, 4.89 ERA) has limited opponents to six hits with 18 strikeouts over 11 scoreless innings in his last two, though he posted a 6.83 ERA in his first six starts.

On Wednesday, the right-hander allowed only one hit with seven strikeouts over six innings in a 2-0 win at Seattle. He’s never faced the A’s.

Pomeranz (3-1, 1.14) has been stingy since joining Oakland’s rotation, allowing five hits over 10 scoreless innings while winning his first two starts. He surrendered three hits with a career-high eight strikeouts over five innings in last Tuesday’s 11-0 home win over the Chicago White Sox.

A’s manager Bob Melvin said the left-hander will have a chance to work deeper into the game in his third start after beginning the season in the bullpen.

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Pomeranz may have a good chance to continue his recent success while facing a Tampa Bay team that totaled 14 runs and hit .182 in the last six games of a 3-4 trip. Kevin Kiermaier’s first major league homer provided the only runs Sunday as the Rays were held to five hits in a 6-2 loss to the Los Angeles Angels.

”I think there’s a lot more offensive push in us,” manager Joe Maddon told the team’s official website. ”We need to do that to win some more 5-4, 6-5 games, that kind of stuff. But I believe we’re going to right ourselves at home.”

Evan Longoria could help make that happen since he’s hitting .347 at Tropicana Field, where the Rays have gone 1-7 since winning seven of their first 12. The star third baseman, though, has batted just .207 in his last 16 games against the A’s.

Oakland and Tampa Bay split their six 2013 meetings, with both clubs sweeping series on their home field.