Athletics-White Sox Preview

The Oakland Athletics again have to pick themselves up after blowing a ninth-inning lead in a defeat.

The stumbling AL wild card leaders could be hard-pressed to give Jon Lester some run support Tuesday night when they continue this four-game road series against the Chicago White Sox.

Oakland (80-63) has played six straight one-run games, losing five of them with blown one-run, ninth-inning leads in the last two.

Injured closer Sean Doolittle is not expected back until the end of the week. His absence was felt when two relievers failed to hold a lead in the ninth in Sunday’s 4-3 loss to Houston before Eric O’Flaherty allowed a tying solo homer to Tyler Flowers with two outs in the ninth in Monday’s 5-4, 12-inning defeat.

Flowers added the winning homer in the 12th.

”It’s tough to lose games like that,” Oakland manager Bob Melvin said. ”There is a sense of urgency every game. We have 19 games left.”

Melvin’s team is one game in front of Seattle and 1 1/2 ahead of Detroit in the wild-card standings.

The Athletics are averaging 3.4 runs while losing 19 of 27 and a lack of support has been an issue for Lester (13-10, 2.54 ERA), who has received four total runs of support while going 0-3 with a 2.67 ERA in his last four starts. He yielded two runs in eight innings Wednesday in a 2-1 defeat to Seattle.

The left-hander is 3-3 with a 2.59 ERA in seven starts with Oakland, and he’s 1-0 with a 1.20 ERA in two starts this year against the White Sox. Dayan Viciedo is 0 for 7 with four strikeouts in those games while Jose Abreu is 2 for 3 with a double.

Chicago (64-79) ended a four-game losing streak Monday behind Flowers who has recorded both career multihomer efforts in his last four games.

”I definitely didn’t expect to hit a home run either time,” Flowers said. ”I was just trying to battle and go with the information I had in front of me, and it happened to work out.”

The White Sox have lost six straight starts by John Danks (9-10, 5.12), who is 0-4 with a 7.71 ERA in those games. He was ripped for seven runs over 4 2-3 innings in Wednesday’s 11-4 loss at Minnesota.

Danks throws fastballs 43.8 percent of the time and his results on that pitch haven’t been pretty lately.

"Right now it just seems like everyone is really sitting on the fastball," manager Robin Ventura said. "If you can’t locate that stuff, you’re going to get hit.”

The left-hander is 6-2 with a 2.33 ERA in 10 career starts against the A’s, including 5-1 with a 2.15 ERA in seven at home. Jed Lowrie, who homered Monday and has six hits in his last 12 at-bats, is hitless in 12 at-bats against him.

Danks likely won’t face former teammate Adam Dunn, a .164 hitter against lefties. Dunn was 1 for 5 on Monday in his return to face the team that traded him to the A’s on Aug. 31.