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Athletics-Angels Preview

4/9/2009

The Oakland Athletics' parade of young pitchers continues Thursday night with another one of their top prospects -- and Olympic hero -- making his major league debut.

In Brett Anderson's first career start, the A's will also look for their third straight series win over the Los Angeles Angels in Thursday night's finale of a four-game set in Anaheim.

Anderson, a 21-year-old acquired in the 2007 trade that sent Dan Haren to Arizona, played at all three levels of Oakland's minor league system and struck out 118 in 105 innings while walking just 27 and posting a 3.69 ERA. He took a break in August to lead the U.S. Olympic team to the bronze medal with a win over Japan.

The left-hander continued that strong pitching into Oakland's spring training, finishing 3-1 with a 2.83 ERA with 15 strikeouts and six walks in 28 2-3 innings.

Fellow youngsters Dallas Braden (25 years old), Trevor Cahill (21) and Dana Eveland (25) have already made starts for the A's (2-1). Only Eveland had started more than 25 games coming into this season, and the trio combined to allow eight earned runs in 17 innings.

Offensively, Oakland has also taken advantage of a struggling Angels' bullpen, which gave up six runs in Wednesday night's 6-4 loss. After earning a save in Monday night's season-opening victory, new closer Brian Fuentes couldn't follow up with an encore for Los Angeles (1-2).

Fuentes, signed from Colorado to replace single-season saves record-holder Francisco Rodriguez, blew a one-run lead by giving up three runs in the top of the ninth. After Nick Adenhart pitched six scoreless innings, set-up men Jose Arredondo and Scot Shields yielded three runs in the eighth.

"Those are the type of things that happen when things go bad," Fuentes said.

That came one game after Kevin Jepsen and Darren Oliver combined to allow three runs in another 6-4 defeat.

Nomar Garciaparra, Matt Holliday and Mark Ellis, who finished with three hits, all had ninth-inning RBI singles. Kurt Suzuki and Ryan Sweeney also had three hits apiece for Oakland, which has totaled 31 in its consecutive victories.

"Sometimes you can make your own breaks," Holliday said. "We had to take advantage of the breaks we got, and it worked out for us. It was a fun game to jump in at the end. To get another chance and added another run on was big."

They'll try to catch some more breaks against Jered Weaver, who will need a better start to this season to help the Angels' depleted rotation -- currently without injured starters John Lackey, Ervin Santana and Kelvin Escobar.

Weaver broke into the major leagues by winning seven straight games in 2006, but has started 1-3 in each of the last two seasons. He recovered to win a career-best 13 games in 2007 and finished 11-10 last season despite a career-worst 4.33 ERA.

Weaver, who is 2-2 with a 2.56 ERA in his career against the A's, allowed a combined three runs in 13 innings in his two starts last season against Oakland but went 0-1.

Sweeney, who has started the season 6-for-14, has drawn walks in all three career at-bats against Weaver, while Jason Giambi -- off to a 5-for-12 start in his second stint with the A's -- is 3-for-8 with one RBI.

Kendry Morales has two hits in each of the last two games for Los Angeles.