After dropping the first two in this crucial four-game series, the Oakland Athletics are hoping Jeff Samardzija can stop the bleeding.
Samardzija and the visiting A's try to make up some ground against the AL West-leading Los Angeles Angels on Saturday night.
Oakland (78-56) fell three games behind Los Angeles (81-53) after coming up empty in Friday's 4-0 defeat. Chris Iannetta homered and drove in a season-high three runs while Jered Weaver combined with two relievers on a five-hitter.
Albert Pujols also went deep for the Angels, who have outscored opponents 22-6 during their four-game winning streak and won 13 of 17 overall.
"That's the only thing I play for. I don't play for anything else than winning," Weaver said. "My main goal is to win a World Series. That's what everybody should play the game for."
Oakland has hit .171with runners in scoring position during a 6-12 funk. The A's are 2 for their last 34 in such situations against the Angels and have been outscored 17-7 losing the last three between the teams.
Brandon Moss is 2 for his last 23 with no RBIs and 12 strikeouts against Los Angeles and Josh Reddick is 2 for 20 in the series this year. Oakland is 8-6 against the Angels despite its recent funk.
Oakland now turns to Samardzija (4-3, 3.86 ERA) after flip-flopping him with Scott Kazmir, who will instead pitch Sunday.
"Shark feels really good right now, so it just gave us an opportunity to give Kaz an extra day or two," manager Bob Melvin told MLB's official website.
After giving up seven runs over 3 2-3 innings against the New York Mets on Aug. 20, Samardzija regrouped to win 8-2 at Houston on Monday. The right-hander allowed two runs over eight innings and matched a season high with 10 strikeouts.
"I took that last one pretty personally and I wanted to come out and have a good one and get back into my groove and how I do things," Samardzija said.
Samardzija was tagged for a career high-tying nine runs over 4 2-3 innings in his only appearance against the Angels, a 13-2 home loss July 10, 2013, with the Chicago Cubs. He served up two home runs to Josh Hamilton and one to Pujols, who is 6 for 13 with three homers and a double in their matchups.
Mike Trout, who went 3 for 3 with two doubles against Samardzija last year, is batting .333 with nine extra-base hits, nine RBIs and nine runs during an 11-game stretch against Oakland.
The A's could be without Coco Crisp, who exited with a strained neck after crashing into the wall while nearly catching Iannetta's two-run shot.
"It was an unbelievable effort. He came out of nowhere to get to it," Melvin said. "We thought it was a concussion because he was a little shook up. But his neck is the issue again. We've had to deal with that before, and we have to again."
With Garrett Richards out for the year, Los Angeles will turn to Cory Rasmus (3-1, 2.68) for his first career start. The right-hander hasn't been very sharp of late, yielding five runs over his last five relief appearances spanning 9 2-3 innings, but he did have season highs of 2 2-3 innings and 51 pitches versus Miami in his last outing Monday while giving up one run and three hits.
Rasmus is 1-0 in five games against Oakland, giving up two earned runs in 6 2-3 innings. He would appear to have a favorable matchup against an A's team hitting .201 during a 2-8 stretch on the road.