Oakland Athletics
at Los Angeles Angels

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Oakland
Athletics

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Los Angeles
Angels

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Preview Oakland at Los Angeles

(SportsNetwork.com) - Oakland will rely on Jeff Samardzija on Saturday when it continues a four-game series with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Angel Stadium.

The Athletics originally had Scott Kazmir lined up for this start, but Oakland manager Bob Melvin opted to flip-flop him with Samardzija. Kazmir will instead start Sunday's finale.

"The idea is to give Kaz a little more time off," Melvin said. "It's been a while since he's pitched this much, and Shark (Samardzija) feels real good right now."

Not to mention, the A's are 0-3 in August when Jon Lester and Kazmir have faced the same team in back-to-back starts.

So it will be Samardzija, who is coming off one of his better efforts since being acquired from the Chicago Cubs. Samardzija snapped a two-start losing streak on Monday in Houston, as he allowed two runs in eight innings and struck out 10 to improve to 4-3 with a 3.86 ERA since the trade.

He had surrendered 10 earned runs in 10 innings of his last two starts. Samardzija credited a meeting with pitching coach Curt Young in getting him back on track.

"I gotta give a lot of credit to Curt," Samardzija said. "After that last start, I kind of wanted to overhaul a lot of things, and Curt brought me back and was like, 'Hey, it wasn't that bad. There are a couple things we need to work on.'"

Samardzija lost his only other start to the Angels and was rocked for nine runs in only 4 2/3 innings.

Oakland is going to need a big start from Samardzija if it wants to stay in the American League West race. Los Angeles stretched its lead to three games in the division on Friday, as Jered Weaver threw seven shutout innings for his 15th win of the season and the Angels cruised, 4-0.

Weaver (15-7) joined Detroit's Rick Porcello and Max Scherzer in a three-way tie for the AL lead in wins after giving up just three hits and three walks.

"It's nice to get run support and great defense behind you," said Weaver. "A nice win we much needed."

The Angels captured the opener of the four-game series 4-3 in 10 innings on Thursday night and have won four in a row.

A's center fielder Coco Crisp was injured crashing into the wall in an attempt to catch Chris Iannetta's homer in the fifth inning, which broke a scoreless tie. He left the game with a neck injury.

"We were worried about a concussion, but it's a neck strain," said Melvin. "We'll see how he is tomorrow."

Lester (13-9) lost for the second time in an Oakland jersey after giving up three runs -- two earned -- over six innings. He allowed six hits, one walk and struck out five.

The starting pitching starved Angels will rely on long reliever Cory Rasmus on Saturday. Rasmus has never started a big league game, but is 3-1 in 24 relief appearances this season with a 2.68 ERA.

Rasmus threw a career-high 51 pitches over 2 2/3 innings Monday in his last outing and didn't rule out exceeding 60 pitches on Saturday.

"I'm going to go out there and go as long as I can and see if I can get some outs," Rasmus said. "My job ain't really to go out there a throw a CG, obviously, it's to throw a couple of innings, maybe a few, whatever. Go however long I can, as hard as I can and help the team to another [win]."

These teams met last weekend in Oakland with the A's taking two of three. Oakland has won eight of the 14 matchups between the two this season.