Oakland Athletics starter A.J. Griffin has allowed more homers than any pitcher in baseball.
That's a distinction Los Angeles Angels starter Jason Vargas nearly had a year ago.
There's a chance the baseballs could be flying out of the Coliseum on Wednesday when these division rivals complete a three-game set.
Oakland (89-62) has a magic number of six to win the AL West and five to gain at least a postseason spot as it turns to Griffin (14-9, 3.81 ERA), who has surrendered 34 homers - the most by an Athletics pitcher since Curt Young gave up 38 in 1987.
Vargas (8-7, 4.20) can probably relate since he gave up 35 homers in 2012 to tie for baseball's second-highest total when he threw a career-high 217 1-3 innings with Seattle. He has been limited to 21 starts this year after missing nearly two months with a blood clot in his throwing arm.
The propensity for yielding longballs doesn't mean that Griffin hasn't been effective. He is limiting hitters to a .230 average, and has gone 4-0 with a 3.60 ERA while striking out 28 over his last four starts.
Griffin gave up two hits - one being a solo homer - over seven innings with eight strikeouts in last Thursday's 8-2 win at Minnesota.
"I feel like I can throw any pitch in any count and throw them effectively," Griffin said. "It's a lot more fun when that's going on."
Griffin has faced the Angels (73-78) three times in his career, yielding one run over 16 innings with no homers in victories April 11 and Sept. 12, 2012. Mike Trout, Erick Aybar and Albert Pujols all went deep off him in the most recent one, as Griffin was charged with four runs in five innings in a 4-1 defeat July 19.
Vargas fell to 0-2 with a 9.42 ERA in his last three starts after giving up a season-high eight runs over 4 1-3 innings in Friday's 9-7 loss at Houston. The left-hander went 2-0 with a 1.63 ERA last year at the Coliseum, where he has yet to pitch in 2013.
Josh Donaldson's third hit of the game was a bases-loaded game-winning RBI single in the bottom of the ninth inning as Oakland won for the 17th time in 22 games with a 2-1 victory Tuesday. It was Donaldson's third walk-off hit this season.
"I guess I have success in that situation,' said Donaldson, 8 for 11 with 16 RBIs when the bases are loaded. "I think a big part of it is allowing the ball to get deeper to me and hitting the ball up the middle to right-center."
The Athletics improved to an AL-best 30-19 in one-run games and remained one game ahead of AL Central-leading Detroit in the race for home-field advantage in a division series.
Los Angeles scored its run on Trout's 25th homer. He has gone deep in both games of this series and has reached base in 24 straight games.
Trout is the first player in AL history with 25 home runs, 30 stolen bases and 100 walks.
Oakland shortstop Jed Lowrie missed his second straight start with a tight right hamstring, but is expected to start Wednesday even though he is 2 for 10 off Vargas.
The Associated Press News Service
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