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Griffin hurls eight scoreless innings

Another extra-innings thriller in the books, the Yankees and A's continue their quests for playoff spots Sunday in their final meeting of the season.

The two teams might have come into the 2012 campaign with different expectations, but they're both at least currently slotted for postseason play heading into Sunday's action -- the Yankees, winners of seven straight, atop the American League East and the A's in the second Wild Card spot.

So as the A's send rookie A.J. Griffin to the mound to meet veteran Hiroki Kuroda and the Yankees, it's a game that both teams recognize as important to their playoff hopes.

"Every game is big," says outfielder Nick Swisher of the Yankees, who will be going for the series sweep. "I don't care if we're playing the Kansas City Royals, the Oakland A's, whoever. It doesn't matter. Every game is big."

A couple of starters who have come up big for their teams will be meeting Sunday and with both teams depleting their bullpens in a 14-inning affair Saturday, there's even more of a premium on a strong outing. Griffin comes off his first career loss after six victories and Kuroda looks to continue what has been a stellar first season in pinstripes.

Griffin, making his 13th start, had given up a combined five earned runs over his previous six starts, but he was touched for five in his last outing against the Tigers. However, his previous outing against the Yankees was a winner, as Griffin threw five shutout innings before allowing two in the sixth in a 4-3 A's win on July 19.

Kuroda, meanwhile, has been the Yankees' most consistent and perhaps best starter this season. Signed as a free agent from the Dodgers last winter, Kuroda ran into some trouble his last time on the hill after dominating early, allowing four earned runs in six innings to the Rays but still getting the win after taking several hard-luck losses despite superior outings this season.

A's: Reddick dropped in order
A's manager Bob Melvin wrote in Josh Reddick, who has been the No. 3 hitter for 133 games this season, into the No. 6 slot Saturday, batting him there for the fifth time this season to take a little pressure off the young right fielder.

Reddick took an 0-for-7 with a couple of hard line drives Saturday, so he now has batted .145 (12-for-83) with just six RBIs in his last 20 games. Melvin figures it's just a matter of time before he breaks back out again.

"He's been so good for us all year offensively and defensively," said Melvin. "Now you get down to where you're semi-close to the season's end, and I think he's maybe trying to do a little bit too much. It certainly isn't for lack of confidence. He's trying too hard. Sometimes, you've got to step back."

Yankees: Tex takes steps
After a key running session at Yankee Stadium on Saturday went well, injured first baseman Mark Teixeira is slated to head to Tampa, Fla., on Sunday night to continue his rehabilitation from a calf strain.

Teixeira, who missed 10 games and then aggravated the injury Sept. 8, will play in instructional league games there to ramp up his baseball activities. There's still no timetable for his return, however.

"We didn't really have a progression last time, it was, 'Get back as soon as possible,'" Teixeira said. "This time, we're doing a progression."

Worth noting
• The Yankees lead the season series with the A's, 5-4, and have won the last four season series.

• After departing the Bronx, the A's will continue their all-contenders September road trip with a four-game set at Texas, the AL West leaders. The Yankees travel to Minnesota and Toronto for a full seven-game slate next week.

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