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The American League West-leading Oakland Athletics attempt to pick up where they left off prior to the All-Star break when they visit the division-rival Los Angeles Angels on Friday in the opener of a three-game series. Oakland, which enters with a two-game lead over the Texas Rangers, dropped the first contest of a home set against AL East-leading Boston before limiting the Red Sox to two runs over the final two outings - both victories. The Athletics hope Yoenis Cespedes' power display in winning the Home Run Derby carries over, as the 27-year-old Cuban has gone 19 games without a blast.
Los Angeles attempts a second-half surge as it trails Oakland by 11 games in the West and Texas by nine for the second wild-card spot. The Angels went into the break on a down note, as they were swept by the Mariners in a three-game series in Seattle. More is expected of former AL MVP Josh Hamilton, who has recorded only 39 RBIs over 89 games in his first year with Los Angeles after driving in 128 runs with Texas last season.
TV: 10:05 p.m. ET, CSN California (Oakland), FSN West (Los Angeles)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Athletics RH A.J. Griffin (8-6, 3.68 ERA) vs. Angels RH Jered Weaver (3-5, 3.63)
Griffin looks to extend his winning streak to four games as he faces the Angels for the second time this season. The 25-year-old posted his second win in as many career starts against Los Angeles on April 11, when he allowed just one run and five hits over eight innings on the road. Griffin has held the opposition scoreless in two of his last four outings, tossing his first career shutout against the Cincinnati Reds on June 26 and scattering six hits over eight frames in a win over Boston on Saturday.
Weaver hopes to bounce back from a loss at Seattle on Saturday in which he yielded four runs and nine hits in 5 2/3 innings. The 30-year-old went 2-0 while allowing a total of two runs over 20 2/3 frames in his previous three starts. Weaver is 9-7 with a 2.36 ERA in 24 career outings against the Athletics.
1. Oakland All-Star RHP Grant Balfour is the only closer in the major leagues without a blown save this season, successfully converting all 25 of his opportunities. He is riding a franchise-record streak of 43 consecutive saves.
2. Hamilton and 1B Albert Pujols have combined for 29 home runs for the Angels this year. They belted a total of 73 homers in 2012.
3. The division rivals meet again in Oakland for a four-game series beginning next Thursday.
PREDICTION: Athletics 3, Angels 2