(AP) — The Oakland Athletics were the fastest team in the AL to 50 wins and are a season-best 20 games over .500, though they made it difficult on themselves in the last two contests.
After overcoming blown leads to win both, the MLB-leading A’s go for a three-game sweep of the host Miami Marlins on Sunday.
Oakland (50-30) has won three straight and eight of 10, but it’s squandered 4-0 leads the past two days, falling behind each time before rallying for victories. The 7-6 win Saturday went 14 innings after a blown save by Sean Doolittle, whose streak of 26 1-3 scoreless innings over his previous 24 games ended when Miami plated the tying run in the ninth.
Manager Bob Melvin referred to the victory only as a “relief.”
“To expend everything you have during a game like that, those are tough games to lose. I’m glad we won,” Melvin said.
Yoenis Cespedes went 2 for 7 and is batting .360 with 13 RBIs during a 12-game hitting streak. Alberto Callaspo was 3 for 6 with two RBIs and has gone 7 for 15 in his last three contests.
The win was the A’s sixth in seven interleague games this season, during which they’ve scored 46 runs.
Miami should have leadoff hitter Christian Yelich back as it looks to end a three-game skid. The left fielder, a career .344 hitter against the AL, is expected to be activated after missing two weeks with a back injury. Miami (39-42) is 31-26 when he bats leadoff.
While Yelich is set to return, fellow outfielder Marcell Ozuna left Saturday’s game because of cramps.
The Marlins, losers of eight of 11 overall, have dropped three straight to the AL after starting the season 8-0.
Giancarlo Stanton collected three more hits Saturday and is batting .472 during a nine-game streak. He’s hitting .366 against the AL this season.
Miami will try to finally make Oakland pay for its recent starting pitching struggles. The A’s rotation has an 8.88 ERA in the past five games, a trend Tommy Milone will look to stop by bouncing back from the rough start that began that ugly stretch.
Milone (5-3, 3.89 ERA) has gone 5-0 with a 2.91 ERA in his last nine outings, though his latest was his worst of the season. The left-hander allowed five runs and eight hits in five innings of last Sunday’s 7-6 loss to Boston.
Milone has never faced Miami but will be looking to bring down his 5.08 ERA against the NL, though he’s managed a 5-1 record in nine such starts.
After showing promise despite losing his first career start, the left-hander took a step back in his most recent. Heaney (0-2, 4.91) surrendered five runs in five innings of a 7-4 defeat in Philadelphia on Tuesday.
“Every one of these starts is going to be a learning experience for him,” Marlins manager Mike Redmond told MLB’s official website. “There’ll be some growing pains out there for him, but I liked a lot of things I saw out there with him.”
A’s right fielder Josh Reddick left Saturday’s game with a strained right knee and is day to day while catcher Derek Norris, who left Friday’s contest due to tightness in his back, did not play and is uncertain for Sunday.
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