After getting swept in consecutive series by AL East heavyweights, the Oakland Athletics are no doubt happy to face an opponent from that division that they know they can beat.
The Athletics will try to avoid a season-high seventh straight loss Monday night when they begin a three-game road series against the Baltimore Orioles -- the last team Oakland has defeated.Oakland (27-33) swept three games from Baltimore (26-31) from May 27-29, but was outscored 19-5 in a three-game sweep by the New York Yankees in its next series. The Athletics then began this 10-game trip by being swept by Boston over the weekend.The series in Fenway Park was more competitive, with Oakland blowing leads in the first two games and totaling 17 runs."We swung the bats better this series," second baseman Mark Ellis said. "We ran into a couple of good teams and they beat us up pretty good."That's been the case for Orioles when they have faced the Athletics, who have won 20 of the last 24 meetings. Oakland's pitching made the difference in the recent sweep of Baltimore, which scored eight runs and managed one extra-base hit.The A's have won all three games Gio Gonzalez (5-3, 2.49 ERA) has started against the Orioles. Gonzalez, 1-0 with a 2.08 ERA in those contests, didn't get a decision in a 6-2 victory May 27 after allowing two runs over five innings.The left-hander suffered his first loss since April 25 when he gave up four runs over 6 1/3 innings of a 4-2 defeat to the Yankees on Wednesday.Gonzalez will be opposed by Brian Matusz (0-0, 1.59), making his second start of the season since being activated off the disabled list. He pitched 5 2/3 innings and yielded one run in a 2-1 victory at Seattle on Wednesday."As the game went on I was able to kind of feel myself, and get a good feel, to get myself back on track," Matusz said. "Not trying to think about mechanics at all, just feeling my groove and slow it down a bit and not be so jumpy."The left-hander has gone 1-2 with a 6.11 ERA in three career starts against the A's, and 0-2 with a 7.15 ERA in two at home.Matusz will be facing an Oakland team that has hit a major league-low 33 homers. Josh Willingham, however, had two of those in last month's series against the Orioles.First baseman Daric Barton went 6 for 12 in the series in Boston. He has a .387 average during a nine-game hitting streak against Baltimore.A's manager Bob Geren rested slumping designated hitter Hideki Matsui on Sunday. Matsui snapped a career-worst 0-for-19 slump with an 11th-inning single Saturday.The series in Oakland started a stretch in which Baltimore has dropped seven of nine. The Orioles, who have scored an AL-low 28 runs since May 27, lost 7-4 to Toronto on Sunday."I think we hit three line drives at them that we didn't get much to show for," manager Buck Showalter told the team's official website. "That was frustrating."