While they remain in prime position to make the playoffs, the Oakland Athletics and Cincinnati Reds haven't played well lately.
Considering their success against the NL this season, back-to-back interleague games could be what the A's need to get on track, while the Reds look to end their struggles versus the AL.
Cincinnati hosts Oakland for a two-game set beginning Tuesday night.
The Athletics (64-47) sit atop the AL West but have lost four of five, allowing second-place Texas to creep closer. Oakland has totaled five runs in the last four defeats and is coming off a 4-0 loss to the Rangers on Sunday in which it committed two errors.
"We're having a tough time putting two games together in a row," manager Bob Melvin said. "We've been in a little bit of a rut, whether it's our defense, whether it's our pitching at times, or we haven't been timely as far as that goes."
The A's, though, have been at their best against the NL, posting a 13-5 record that includes two home wins over Cincinnati on June 25 and 26.
Strong pitching has keyed that success, with Oakland starters going 11-3 with a 2.90 ERA in interleague play. A.J. Griffin pitched a two-hitter in a 5-0 victory over the Reds on June 26.
Dan Straily (6-5, 4.41 ERA) has lost his last three starts with a 5.06 ERA, lasting fewer than five innings in the past two. The right-hander, however, has won all three outings against NL opponents with a 0.93 ERA.
Straily yielded five runs - two earned - while needing 96 pitches to throw 4 2-3 innings in a 5-0 loss to Toronto last Tuesday.
The Reds (61-51), losers of seven of nine, are 6-9 against the AL this season and 2-8 in the last 10 such matchups.
A 15-2 home loss to St. Louis on Sunday was their worst defeat of the season, coming two days after a 13-3 rout by the Cardinals.
Cincinnati trails Pittsburgh by 6 1/2 games for the NL Central lead, but is 4 1/2 ahead of Arizona for the league's second wild-card spot.
"We're running out of tomorrows and we need a sense of urgency," reliever Sam LeCure said. "We'll see what we're made of here coming down the stretch. Thankfully we do have some time to get it right."
Todd Frazier is 0 for 28 with 10 strikeouts in his last nine games while Shin-Soo Choo is 2 for 20 over his past seven.
Matt Latos (10-3, 3.38) has gone 2-0 with a 2.41 ERA in his last three starts. He didn't get a decision his last time out, giving up two runs in six innings of a 4-2 loss at San Diego on Tuesday.
Jed Lowrie is 4 for 5 with two home runs off Latos.
Josh Donaldson, homerless in 16 games since the All-Star break after hitting 16 in the first half, went 3 for 7 with two home runs and five RBIs in the first two meetings with the Reds.
Oakland owns a 10-4 advantage in the all-time series, outscoring Cincinnati 91-48.
The Associated Press News Service
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