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American League Preview from The Sports Network



Thursday, August 14 (All times Eastern)

Oakland Athletics (73-47) at Kansas City Royals (65-54), 2:10 p.m.

Probable Starting Pitchers: Oakland - Jeff Samardzija (3-1, 3.08) Kansas City - James Shields (11-6, 3.25)

(SportsNetwork.com) - The Kansas City Royals are gunning for their seventh straight series win when they wrap up a four-game set Thursday with the Oakland Athletics at Kauffman Stadium.

The Royals have taken two of the first three matchups in this battle of division leaders and haven't dropped a series since a three-game sweep at the hands of the Boston Red Sox from July 18-20.

After suffering a lopsided 11-3 defeat to the A's on Tuesday, the Royals responded with Wednesday's 3-0 victory behind Jason Vargas's three-hit shutout and four strikeouts. Vargas walked four batters and retired the final 23 batters of the game. It was his sixth career shutout.

The 97 pitches were the fewest thrown by a Royals hurler in a nine-inning complete game shutout since Tim Belcher delivered 90 on Sept. 2, 1996.

"He was pretty good and got back to being who he was," Royals manager Ned Yost said of Vargas. "He was dynamic and was in complete control."

Omar Infante hit a two-run homer and Salvador Perez supplied a sacrifice fly for the Royals, who have won nine of 10 and 17 of the last 21 games. Norichika Aoki finished with two hits and a run scored.

Kansas City, which has scored three or more runs in 11 straight games, is just a half-game ahead of Detroit for the AL Central lead and 5-1 on a seven-game homestand. It will hit the road for the next nine games against Minnesota, Colorado and Texas.

James Shields will try to pitch the Royals to a series win Thursday and duplicate what Vargas did last night. Shields is 11-6 with a 3.25 earned run average and tossed a four-hit shutout his last time out in a 5-0 win over San Francisco on Saturday, posting five K's and one walk in that one.

Shields has won back-to-back starts and recorded his ninth career shutout. The right-hander improved to 13-3 with a 2.49 ERA in the month of August since 2011 and has a 4-4 mark in 10 home starts. Shields has made 14 career starts against the A's and is 6-4 with a 3.78 ERA. He recently defeated Oakland by the bay on Aug. 3 with eight innings of two-run ball in a 4-2 decision.

Meanwhile, the AL West-leading Athletics have lost three of four games and sit 2 1/2 games in front of the LA Angels in the division.

Josh Donaldson, Jonny Gomes and Jed Lowrie provided the hits for an Oakland offense that failed to solve Vargas. In Tuesday's blowout of KC, Donaldson finished 3-for-4 with two homers, three runs scored and four RBI. Sam Fuld, Josh Reddick and Brandon Moss combined for 10 hits in 20-hit attack.

It was different story last night, as Moss had the day off and Fuld and Reddick went a combined 0-for-7.

"At times we're going to get well pitched games against, and today was one of those," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "(Vargas) pitched a great game."

Scott Kazmir suffered the hard-luck loss in his pursuit of win No. 14 (13-5) and served up all three runs and seven hits in seven innings.

The Athletics are 7-6 in August and have posted a winning record in 14 straight months, the longest streak in Oakland history. They will next head to Atlanta to face the Braves for three games this weekend.

Aiming to pitch the A's to a series split Thursday will be right-hander Jeff Samardzija. Samardzija is 3-1 with a 3.08 earned run average in seven starts with the A's since coming over via trade with the Chicago Cubs. He was 2-7 in 17 starts with the Cubs, while Oakland has a 6-1 mark when he starts.

Samardzija threw six innings of two-run ball in a 9-4 win over the Twins on Saturday. It was Samardzija's shortest outing in an Oakland uniform and he has given up just two runs in each of his past two starts. Samardzija faced the Royals once in relief on June 25, 2011 in a 3-2 Cubs loss at Kauffman Stadium, as he permitted one run and one hit with two walks.

Kansas City took two of three against the A's from Aug. 1-3.

08/14 10:20:58 ET

  • ACC: Wake Forest at Duke

    Wednesday at 8:00 pm on WRAL-TV

  • ACC: Syracuse at NC State

    Saturday at 12:00 pm on WRAL-TV

  • SEC: Florida at Kentucky

    Saturday at 2:00 pm on WRAL-TV

  • Pac 12: Stanford at Arizona

    Saturday at 4:00 pm on WRAL-TV

  • ACC: Virginia at Syracuse

    Tonight at 7:00 on 620am

  • NHL Hurricanes at Chicago

    Tonight at 8:30 on 99.9 The Fan

  • ACC: NC State at Clemson

    Tomorrow at 9:00 pm on WRAL-FM

  • ACC: Duke vs. Wake Forest

    Wednesday at 8:00 pm on 620am

Scoreboard
Local
Final
ORL 83
CHA 98
8:00pm Tonight
SAV
NCCU
 
8:30pm Tonight
CHI
CAR
 
Final
PHI 2
UTA 6
 
1:05pm Today
MIA
FIU
 
1:05pm Today
DET
FLASO
 
Final
HOU 105
CLE 103
Final
ORL 83
CHA 98
Final
BOS 101
GSW 106
Final
IND 94
PHI 74
Final
SAC 99
POR 110
Final
LAL 101
OKC 108
Final
DEN 92
NOP 99
7:00pm Tonight
PHI
TOR
 
7:30pm Tonight
BRK
GSW
 
7:30pm Tonight
MIA
PHO
 
8:00pm Tonight
MIN
LAC
 
8:30pm Tonight
DAL
NOP
 
Final
NIAG 57
FAIR 56
 
Final
PETE 68
IONA 60
 
Final
RIDE 59
MAR 49
 
Final
MAN 69
QUIN 65
 
Final
UCONN 81
SMU 73
Final
CAL 73
ORST 56
Final
HOU 72
SFLA 55
Final
PROV 77
MARQ 66
Final
WISC 68
MSU 61
Final
MON 63
SIENA 57
 
Final
WAKE 69
PITT 66
Final
STAN 70
OREG 73
Final
OSU 65
PURD 61
Final
COL 87
ARST 81
Final
UCLA 72
WASU 67
7:00pm Tonight
TEX
BAY
 
7:00pm Tonight
SYR
UVA
 
7:30pm Tonight
NCAT
COOK
 
7:30pm Tonight
SHSU
CARK
 
7:30pm Tonight
DELST
HAMP
 
7:30pm Tonight
HOW
NORST
 
7:30pm Tonight
NWST
SELA
 
8:00pm Tonight
STEPH
INCWORD
 
8:00pm Tonight
MCNST
LAM
 
8:00pm Tonight
SAV
NCCU
 
8:00pm Tonight
NO
NICST
 
8:30pm Tonight
ARKPB
JST
 
8:30pm Tonight
ALAST
PVU
 
8:30pm Tonight
ALAAM
TXSOU
 
9:00pm Tonight
VT
BC
 
9:00pm Tonight
MVSU
GRAM
 
9:00pm Tonight
ISU
OKLA
 
Final
WIN 5
LOS 2
Final
PIT 5
CLB 3
Final
FLA 4
TAM 3
Final
WAS 4
TOR 0
Final
DAL 1
ANA 3
Final
VAN 6
STL 5
7:00pm Tonight
NYR
NAS
 
8:30pm Tonight
CHI
CAR
 
10:00pm Tonight
SJS
MON