Orioles-Athletics Preview

While the Oakland Athletics hold the wild-card lead in the AL,

their recent success also has them in good position to challenge

for the top spot in the West.

The A’s look to complete a series sweep with a fifth consecutive

home win over the Baltimore Orioles, owner of the second wild-card

spot, on Sunday.

Stephen Drew homered and Jarrod Parker tossed seven solid

innings as Oakland (84-61) used a five-run third to beat Baltimore

5-2 on Saturday.

Winners in 23 of 29, the A’s have a three-game wild-card lead

over the Orioles (81-64) and are two back of first-place Texas in

the West. Oakland, which has not reached the postseason since 2006,

still has seven games left with the Rangers.

“It’s kind of crazy how this team works sometimes,” said Drew,

whose homer is the only hit in his last 17 at-bats. “It’s a good

feeling to have, anybody, anytime. It works out well.”

Baltimore, meanwhile, has a 2 1/2-game advantage over the Los

Angeles Angels for the second and final wild-card spot and is one

game behind the first-place New York Yankees in the East.

Looking to avoid its first three-game skid since July 23-25,

Baltimore has been held to two runs in each of the first two games

of this set. The Orioles have averaged 3.1 runs while losing 16 of

18 in Oakland. They jumped ahead 2-0 Saturday before the A’s broke

out in the fifth.

“No one in this clubhouse is down,” Baltimore outfielder Adam

Jones said. “The last few days we’ve been beat. I don’t think we’ve

beaten ourselves. We just can’t score enough runs.”

Hoping to prevent the A’s from a sweep is Randy Wolf (2-0, 5.68

ERA), who makes his first start for the Orioles after coming out of

the bullpen three times since they acquired him Aug. 31.

The 36-year-old Wolf went 3-10 with a 5.69 ERA in 25 games – 24

starts – for Milwaukee this season before the Brewers released him

Aug. 22. After allowing four runs, four hits and three walks in 6

1-3 innings out of the bullpen for the Orioles, Wolf makes his

first start since he yielded five runs and 10 hits in seven innings

of an 8-0 loss to Philadelphia on Aug. 19.

“Coming here you kind of feel a little rejuvenated and excited,”

Wolf told the Orioles’ official website. “I think those exciting

feelings and rejuvenating feelings are enhanced when you get the

call to make the start (Sunday).”

Wolf is 1-0 with a 2.77 ERA in two starts versus Oakland, the

most recent for the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2009.

Oakland counters with rookie Dan Straily (2-0, 3.42), who looks

for a third straight winning start when he makes the fifth of his

career and first appearance versus Baltimore. The right-hander

allowed three runs, two homers and struck out eight in 6 2-3

innings of a 6-5 win at Los Angeles on Tuesday.

Oakland right fielder Josh Reddick, who had two of his team’s

five hits Saturday, is 10 for 30 with four RBIs against the Orioles

this season.

Baltimore designated hitter Chris Davis had two hits, and is

batting .444 (16 for 36) during a 10-game hitting streak against