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Series preview: Mets at A's

8/19/2014
USA TODAY Sports

The Mets draw a pair of aces when they face Scott Kazmir and Jeff Samardzija in Oakland.METS (59-67, fourth place/NL East) vs. OAKLAND ATHLETICS (73-51, second place/AL West)

Tuesday: RHP Dillon Gee (4-5, 3.69) vs. LHP Scott Kazmir (13-5, 2.78), 10:05 p.m. ET

Wednesday: RHP Zack Wheeler (8-8, 3.49) vs. RHP Jeff Samardzija (5-9, 2.96), 3:35 p.m. ET

A’s short hops

• Oakland enters the series on a season-high five-game skid and losers of seven of eight. The A’s were swept by the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field last weekend. Oakland, still comfortably in a playoff position, dropped a half-game behind the Los Angeles Angels in the AL West as a result. On Saturday, the A’s lost sole possession of first place in the division for the first time since April 28. They had been alone atop the standings for 106 consecutive days.

Jon Lester, acquired from the Boston Red Sox on July 31 along with outfielder Jonny Gomes, had been 3-0 with a 2.49 ERA since the trade until allowing four runs (three earned) in six-plus innings on Sunday to suffer his first loss since June 7.

Ed Zurga/Associated Press

The A's have lost a season-high five straight games.

• Since the trade of Yoenis Cespedes in the Lester deal, Brandon Moss has started 10 games, Gomes has started four games and Sam Fuld has started three games in left field. Fuld was acquired at the trade deadline from the Minnesota Twins for left-hander Tommy Milone.

Coco Crisp is batting .118 (9-for-76) with no homers in his past 21 games (20 starts). Fellow center fielder Craig Gentry, who remains on the disabled list with a broken right hand, began a rehab assignment with Triple-A Sacramento on Monday, serving as the designated hitter.

• Oakland acquired Jeff Samardzija along with Jason Hammel from the Chicago Cubs on July 5 for highly regarded shortstop prospect Addison Russell as well as Dan Straily (who hit David Wright with the pitch Saturday in his Cubs debut), Billy McKinney and a player to be named. Samardzija is 3-2 with a 3.21 ERA in eight starts since the deal. He is under A’s control through the 2015 season.

Scott Kazmir's 13 wins match his career high, also produced in 2007 with Tampa Bay. Kazmir’s 2.78 ERA ranks eighth in the AL. He allowed a season-high seven runs in three innings against the Mets at Citi Field on June 24, including three homers.

Stephen Vogt is hitting .355 (11-for-31) with three homers and eight RBIs in his past nine games (eight starts), while manning first base. He previously had been mired in an 0-for-21 drought. Vogt is one of three catchers on the A’s, but has not appeared behind the plate since July 7 because of a bone bruise in his right foot. He is unlikely to catch again this season.

• Shortstop Jed Lowrie landed on the disabled list Thursday with a hairline fracture to his right index finger. Call-up Andy Parrino and Eric Sogard have shared duty at the position in Lowrie’s absence.

• Oakland has outscored opponents by 161 runs. That’s the most in the majors by a wide margin. The Washington Nationals are second at plus-93. The A’s franchise record is plus-239, in 2001.

• Left-hander Fernando Abad has stranded all 23 inherited runners this season. That’s the most in the majors among relievers who have not allowed an inherited runner to score in 2014.