While the Oakland Athletics have stumbled of late, manager Bob Melvin is hoping a much-needed day off will help them regroup.
The Athletics try to avoid losing three straight for the first time in six weeks Tuesday night when they open a two-game set against the visiting Cincinnati Reds.
After compiling a 2.53 ERA in winning 21 of 26, Oakland (44-34) has recorded a 5.00 ERA while dropping seven of 10. The A's saw their woes continue Sunday in the finale of a 2-5 road trip, losing 6-3 in 10 innings to Seattle after closer Grant Balfour gave up a game-ending three-run homer.
"We had a couple guys who weren't available and he's our best pitcher," Melvin said of Balfour, who suffered his first loss in nearly a year. "We were going to go with our best guy going into the day off (Monday)."
Oakland, which fell 7-5 the previous day, hasn't dropped three in a row since a season-worst five-game skid May 6-10.
Melvin's club just completed a stretch of 30 games in 31 days, having played on 13 straight before Monday.
"I think they might be a little bit tired right now, which probably is natural," Melvin told MLB's official website. "We've had some close games, and these guys have been in a lot of games. It taxes you. So this is going to be a good little opportunity to get some rest."
Winners in 14 of 19 against the NL dating to last year, the A's now turn their attention to the Reds (45-32). After Aroldis Chapman blew the save in Saturday's 4-3 walkoff loss at Arizona, Cincinnati snapped a three-game skid with Sunday's 4-2 victory as Shin-Soo Choo and Brandon Phillips both went deep.
"It was very important," Phillips said. "You never want to get swept. Just getting that win, we showed that we're still here. I felt like we should have won (Saturday). All you can do is learn from your mistakes and stay hungry. I'm glad we got the job done."
The Reds give the ball to Bronson Arroyo (6-5, 3.13 ERA), who is 4-1 with a 2.14 ERA over his last eight starts. The right-hander allowed one run in seven innings Wednesday in a 2-1, 13-inning victory over Pittsburgh.
Arroyo is 1-4 with a 6.94 ERA over his last six interleague outings, including a 1-1 record this year. He's 3-0 with a 2.80 ERA in his last five matchups against the A's, most recently yielding two runs in eight innings in a 4-2 victory by the Bay on June 22, 2010.
Chris Young is 4 for 21 in their matchups.
Oakland counters with Tommy Milone (6-7, 3.98), who gave up a season-worst six earned runs in 5 1-3 innings during Wednesday's 9-4 loss at Texas.
"It is really important you go out there and shut it down. Now Tommy has done that many times for us this year," Melvin said. "It just didn't happen."
Milone could benefit from getting back home, where he has a 2.48 ERA compared to 5.07 on the road. He'll need to be wary of Jay Bruce, who has hit an NL-leading 17 homers since May 8, including eight in his last 10 games.
Mired in an 8-for-53 slump, A's outfielder Yoenis Cespedes could find himself facing Chapman - a fellow Cuban defector - for the first time. The two were teammates during the 2009 World Baseball Classic.
The A's won these teams' first seven interleague meetings before losing four of the last five, most recently dropping all three in Oakland in 2010.
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