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BOS@LAA: Greinke fans seven over seven strong frames

If you win nine out of 12 games, you might expect to gain a little bit of ground in the standings. But for the Angels, all those nine wins got them coming into Monday was a measly half-game in the American League Wild Card standings.

That's because the Angels are chasing the red-hot A's, whom they took down in a crucial 8-3 game on Monday. The Angels handed the A's their first loss in 10 games and just the second in Wild Card-leading Oakland's last 13. The Halos picked up a full game, doubling what they did in those previous 12 combined.

Now just 4 1/2 games behind their division rivals, the Angels are catching fire at the right time. The A's have chased down the AL West-leading Rangers, and even with Monday's loss they are still just four games back in the division.

Their most recent series sweep of the Red Sox was propelled by a prolific offensive output: a 33-run, three-game outburst, to be exact. Couple that with a starting staff pitching to an 8-1 record and 3.05 ERA over its last nine games (even with a three-plus-inning, five-run showing by Tommy Milone on Monday), and it's easy how Oakland has become the talk of the baseball world of late.

"It's still day to day, but you also want to ride the wave," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "You certainly want the guys to embrace that they are playing well."

Melvin's cautious optimism is understandable, as the Angels are closing in his team's rear-view mirror, still in the hunt despite a discombobulated starting rotation that is far from filling its potential, though it has improved of late. A perfect example is Tuesday's starter, Zack Greinke, who has won three of his last four starts after dropping his first three since being traded by the Brewers to the Angels.

"The main thing is not worrying about messing up. I was already doing so bad, so one more bad game is not a big deal," Greinke said. "So I was just kind of pitching and letting things happen. It's been working good the last two games, doing it that way."

Greinke's right: The righty is pitching to a 1.84 ERA in his last two starts, a return to the Cy Young Award-winning form that made him one of baseball's most highly coveted arms prior to the Trade Deadline.

"I've been feeling pretty good here, maybe since the first, second start," Greinke said of the adjustment to life as an Angel. "I just wasn't pitching good [earlier], making too many mistakes."

The A's will counter with rookie righty Jarrod Parker, who is 4-4 with a 5.40 ERA over his last 10 starts after going 5-3 with a 2.46 ERA in his first 13. He's winless against the Angels in two outings this year, going 0-1 with a 3.29 ERA.

A's: Ross returns, this time to bullpen
The last time Tyson Ross was with the A's, it was as an emergency starter filling in for the suspended Bartolo Colon. That outing -- a six-inning, five-run showing -- went similarly to the rest of the 25-year-old's 13 starts with Oakland this year; Ross was 2-9 with a 6.45 ERA as a big league starter this year.

Ross is back from Triple-A Sacramento again, but this time as a reliever, a role in which he made two appearances for the River Cats this year. Melvin said Ross will serve as a long man in the A's bullpen for September.

Angels: Weaver's status for Friday start uncertain
Angels ace Jered Weaver is not a lock to make his next start, scheduled for Friday against the Tigers at Angel Stadium, after being hit with a line drive Sunday.

Seattle's Dustin Ackley hit a Weaver fifth-inning offering right back at the righty's pitching shoulder.

Asked whether he felt the injury would affect his start in five days, Weaver said: "No, I don't think so. We'll see."

His manager, Mike Scioscia, however, says the team is going to wait it out and determine how he is feeling as Friday comes closer. They certainly will need him: As the schedule falls Weaver, who is 16-4 and pitching to a 2.86 ERA, is lined up for six more September starts.

Worth noting:
• The A's have hit 157 home runs this year. That's the most Oakland's hit since the club smacked 171 in 2007.

• Afer his 1-for-4 day Monday, Angels outfielder Mike Trout's batting average sits at .332, meaning the rookie has a one-point lead on the Tigers' Miguel Cabrera for the AL lead. Only two rookies in the modern era have won a batting title: Tony Oliva (.323 in 1964) and Ichiro Suzuki (.350 in 2001).

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