Angels-Athletics Preview

After defeating the Los Angeles Angels again, the Oakland Athletics are looking to reclaim sole possession of first place in the AL West.

The Athletics go for a second consecutive three-game home sweep of the Angels on Sunday night with the best record in baseball on the line.

While Oakland (76-52) lost control of the division following a 2-8 slide, it’s since climbed back into a tie after taking the first two in this series. The A’s, who held on for a 5-3 win Friday, pulled out a 2-1 victory the following night after Coco Crisp scored the tiebreaking run on a wild pitch with two outs in the eighth inning.

"We can’t get caught up in the standings or the playoff picture," closer Sean Doolittle said.

The A’s have taken eight of 11 from Los Angeles this year, including all five home meetings by a combined 33-15 score. Oakland hasn’t posted six consecutive home wins against the Angels in the same season since 1991.

Los Angeles (76-52), which went a combined 2 for 9 with runners in scoring position in the two defeats, has only three extra-base hits in the series.

"The A’s do a lot of things well. They pitch well and they have a good bullpen. It was another close game and we didn’t get a couple of things done," manager Mike Scioscia said. "We have to keep moving forward."

Oakland now turns to Scott Kazmir (14-5, 2.73 ERA), who beat the New York Mets 6-2 on Tuesday to set a new career high for wins. The left-hander struck out six over six innings of one-run ball, improving to 7-1 with a 2.19 ERA over his last nine home starts.

"Where we are right now, that’s the last thing I’m thinking about," he said. "We have to take care of business. All you can think about is tomorrow, what we have to do tomorrow."

Sunday’s start could have extra meaning for Kazmir, who spent two-plus seasons with Los Angeles from 2009-11. He’s only faced them once since, yielding all five runs over three-plus innings in a 5-2 defeat last Aug. 9 while with Cleveland.

The Angels counter with Jered Weaver (13-7, 3.70), who owns a 5.40 ERA over his last five starts. The right-hander yielded three runs, seven hits and a season high-tying four walks over 5 1-3 innings but didn’t receive a decision in Tuesday’s 4-3 win at Boston.

Weaver went 8-1 with a 0.87 ERA in 11 starts against the A’s from 2011-13 before struggling in two matchups this year. After surrendering six runs and a season-worst 11 hits over six innings in a 6-3 road loss June 1, Weaver gave up four runs over 5 1-3 innings in a 7-1 home defeat 10 days later.

John Jaso and Josh Donaldson are a combined 2 for 28 versus Weaver. Coco Crisp is a career .175 hitter against him despite going 4 for his last 12 in their matchups.

Donaldson, 3 for 27 with 10 strikeouts in his last eight games, is hitless in his last 19 at-bats against Los Angeles.

Albert Pujols is 2 for 19 with just one RBI in Oakland this year.

These division co-leaders open another crucial four-game set at Angel Stadium on Thursday.