The Oakland Athletics can’t get much going on offense.
Giving the ball to Bartolo Colon could at least help the AL West leaders limit the Cincinnati Reds’ opportunities.
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The 40-year-old right-hander will try to become the first A’s pitcher in nearly four decades to win seven consecutive road starts in Wednesday’s series finale.
Since building their largest divisional lead (six games) in seven seasons on July 29, the A’s (64-48) have dropped five of six to maintain a slim edge over second-place Texas.
Oakland has 10 total runs during that stretch after Derek Norris’ pinch-hit two-out homer in the ninth inning of Tuesday’s 3-1 loss prevented the club’s second straight shutout.
“You go through these periods, yet you try to minimize them so they don’t go on too long,” said manager Bob Melvin, whose team has scored two or fewer in six straight interleague games.
The A’s will try to salvage the split of this two-game set with Colon (14-3, 2.50 ERA) making his first start since learning he wouldn’t face a suspension for his involvement in the Biogenesis performance-enhancing drug scandal.
The 2005 AL Cy Young winner has done a nice job pitching through that distraction, as he’s thrown six or more innings with three runs or fewer allowed in each of his last 15 starts. Colon gave up two runs – one earned – in six innings of last Wednesday’s 5-2, 10-inning loss to Toronto, surrendering three walks for just the second time this season.
Colon is among the majors’ best with 1.28 walks per nine innings.
“But at the end of the day he gives you six innings and only gives up two runs,” said Melvin, whose club had won 12 of Colon’s previous 13 outings. “If that’s a bad day for him, we’ll take that anytime.”
The A’s would surely take another solid road start from Colon, who has a 1.40 ERA in his last six outside the Bay Area. He could become the first A’s pitcher since Catfish Hunter from July 14-Sept. 1, 1974, to win a seventh straight start as a visitor.
Colon has faced the Reds three times in his career, winning each time in Cincinnati, with the last of those in 2007 while with the Los Angeles Angels.
Cincinnati (62-51) will counter with Homer Bailey (6-10, 3.55) as it tries to put together back-to-back wins following a 2-7 skid. The right-hander is looking to build off his first victory since throwing his second career no-hitter July 2 against San Francisco.
The right-hander had lost a career-worst four consecutive starts following that performance before coming up two outs shy of a complete game in Thursday’s 4-1 win at San Diego. The victory also helped Cincinnati avoid a season-worst sixth consecutive defeat.
“Homer really, really wanted it bad because he knew we needed it and he needed it,” manager Dusty Baker said after Bailey allowed one unearned run. “That was big for us.”
Bailey allowed four runs in six innings of a 5-0 loss at Oakland on June 26.
Jed Lowrie, 2 for 3 off Bailey in that contest, is hitting .292 (7 for 24) over the last six games, but Coco Crisp, Josh Donaldson, Brandon Moss, and Yoenis Cespedes are hitting a combined .224 (19 for 85) during that span.
Oakland right fielder Josh Reddick is hitless in his last 16 at-bats.