Monday, April 11, 2011
Posted: 10:25 a.m.
The Oakland Athletics have been slumping on offense, but emerged with a decent hitting performance in their last game.
Seeing Mark Buehrle on the mound for the Chicago White Sox may help them sustain that momentum.
Buehrle hopes to end his struggles against Oakland as the teams begin a three-game set Monday in Chicago.
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The Athletics (4-5) have won three of four overall thanks largely to strong pitching, but they had totaled four runs in their three games prior to Sunday's series finale at Minnesota. The bats then awakened in a 5-3 victory. Hideki Matsui hit his first homer in the fourth inning, and Josh Willingham added a solo shot in Oakland's four-run sixth.
"It was good that the offense came together," said Matsui, who entered Sunday batting .160 with three RBIs. "The starting pitching has been pitching well, but they weren't quite getting the offensive support."
The A's have long done just enough to win against Buehrle (1-0, 7.36 ERA). The left-hander has a respectable 3.90 lifetime ERA versus Oakland, but only a 4-13 record to show for it due to a run support average of less than three.
Buehrle's support has run the gamut from extraordinary to non-existent in his two starts this season. After getting credit for a 15-10 victory at Cleveland on opening day, he received no support at all while in the game at Kansas City on Wednesday. Buehrle allowed five runs in five innings, but didn't get a decision as the White Sox (6-3) rallied to win 10-7 in 12 innings.
If Paul Konerko and the top of the White Sox's order continue hitting the way they did Sunday, Buehrle stands a good chance of overcoming the Athletics.
Konerko hit two solo home runs in Chicago's 6-1 victory against Tampa Bay. Leadoff man Juan Pierre drove in a run and No. 2 hitter Gordon Beckham added his second homer of the season in the first inning. Beckham didn't hit his second home run of 2010 until June 25.
"They've been getting on base, having quality at-bats and they've been tough on the other team," Konerko said of Pierre and Beckham. "That makes it easier for the guys in the middle."
Konerko is enjoying a sizzling start to 2011. He's batting .400 with at least one hit in each game, and has three homers and 11 RBIs. However, he is 0 for 13 with four strikeouts in his last four games against the A's,
Oakland will oppose Buehrle with a southpaw of its own in Dallas Braden (0-1, 6.43).
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Braden had an underwhelming season debut Wednesday at Toronto, allowing five runs and 10 hits through seven innings of Oakland's 5-3 loss.
Braden is 2-0 with a 3.22 ERA in three career starts against the White Sox, with both victories coming within six days of each other last season. He beat them 6-4 on July 25, then pitched a complete game and gave up two runs in a 6-2 win July 31.
Konerko is 2 for 8 off Braden, though both hits were doubles.
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