The Oakland Athletics hope the confidence they've gained during their current surge will help them turn it around against their Bay Area rivals.
Coming off a stellar road trip, the A's try to reverse their recent fortunes against the visiting San Francisco Giants on Monday.Oakland (28-23) is 47-45 versus San Francisco during the regular season, but the A's have seen their dominance of the series come to an end in the past five years. They've dropped 17 of the last 26 meetings and have not won a season series from the Giants (28-22) since 2008.San Francisco took two of three at both ballparks in 2012 and also snapped a six-game slide in Oakland.With each team playing well after both won 94 games last season and the Giants a World Series title, the 2013 installment could be more intense than the others.These four games will be the only matchups between the teams this year, with two contests in Oakland followed by two in San Francisco on Wednesday and Thursday."I've often said that people in the Bay Area, it's an exciting time in the baseball season for them, because everyone's watching," A's manager Bob Melvin told the team's official website."You can say all you want that it's just another team, another four games, and it is another team and another four games, but in the Bay Area it takes on more importance than that," he added."Everyone's watching. Stands are packed, whether it's our place or their place. It's a raucous crowd, our side and their side. It's kind of cool."The A's have won eight of nine overall and capped a 5-1 trip to Texas with a three-game sweep of Houston. Rookie Nate Freiman homered and had three RBIs while Yeonis Cespedes added two hits in a 6-2 win Sunday.Oakland scored 23 runs against the Astros.Cespedes has recorded at least a hit in eight straight games, but went 2 for 12 with seven strikeouts at home against the Giants last year.San Francisco scored 13 runs to win its last two versus Colorado after totaling a run in back-to-back losses to Washington and the Rockies. Brandon Belt hit a tiebreaking, two-run double in the fifth and Buster Posey added his seventh homer in a 7-3 victory Sunday.Posey is batting .421 with two homers and five RBIs during a 10-game hitting streak. He's hit .308 with two home runs and seven RBIs over his last eight versus Oakland after going 1 for 12 in his first three.San Francisco's Madison Bumgarner (4-2, 2.89 ERA) has been inconsistent in four May starts. In losing his first and third outings of the month, he allowed 14 runs and 16 hits in 10 2/3 innings. In each of the other two, the left-hander yielded a run and four hits over seven innings, most recently during a 2-1, 10-inning loss to Washington on Wednesday."He's an incredible pitcher," Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper told the Giants' official website. "He knows what he's doing out there, and the Giants are very lucky to have him."Bumgarner allowed four runs and 11 hits, including two homers, in six innings of a 9-8 win at Oakland on June 23.The A's Dan Straily (2-2, 5.73) makes his first appearance against the Giants after he allowed two hits without a walk in seven innings of a 1-0 victory at Texas on Tuesday."The best pitching performance we've seen out of him to date," manager Bob Melvin said of the right-hander, who allowed 11 runs and walked eight in 9 1/3 innings to lose his previous two starts. "I think he just gained confidence as the game went along. Early in the game, he's throwing strikes, he's getting outs, they're not hitting any balls hard really, and you just kind of grow from that."