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DET@OAK: Kazmir fans eight in complete game

Oakland's payroll is nearly $120 million below New York's this year, but when the two teams square off for the first time this season Tuesday, the Athletics will be the favorite to take the three-game series.

With the best record in the American League (35-22), the A's have churned success out of lesser-known players and squeezed out the remaining contents of talent from their aging veterans. Entering Sunday, they led the league in multiple offensive categories, including runs (290), RBIs (273) and on-base percentage (.339). They also happen to have a pitching staff that boasts the league's best ERA at 2.93 while opponents are hitting a league-worst .222.

After making a statement against the division-rival and second-place Angels -- sweeping them in a three-game set over the weekend -- Oakland heads to New York to start a nine-game road trip, which ends back in Anaheim. Since the new Yankee Stadium opened, the A's have struggled there with a 7-15 record.

Hoping to reverse those fortunes, Oakland will tab lefty Scott Kazmir, who fired his first complete game in eight years Wednesday in a one-run effort vs. the Tigers.

It was the second complete game of the southpaw's career, the first coming July 3, 2006, as a member of the Rays. On Tuesday, he will look to continue his remarkable 2014 season when he faces Hiroki Kuroda in the series opener.

Since being released by the Angels during Spring Training in 2011, Kazmir has come a long way. He was out of the Majors for two years before bouncing back with Cleveland in 2013. So far this year, he is 6-2 with a 2.36 ERA.

"I feel like I've improved a lot as a pitcher," he said. "I'm always going to have kind of that chip on my shoulder after what happened the last three or four years, but that's just the competitive side of me. Just got to stick with it."

Kazmir is 7-7 in his career against the Yankees and will be facing a hitting attack that has been dormant recently after returning home Friday from an 11-game road trip. Part of the reason has been Mark Teixeira, a valuable asset out of the lineup, still recovering from soreness in his wrist. His return to the lineup Tuesday is possible and would benefit New York considering he's hit Kazmir well -- a .529 average with six RBIs and a home run.

Kuroda (4-3, 4.57 ERA), currently helping to anchor a young staff, will look to get deeper into ballgames for the Yankees after not being able to complete six innings in two straight starts.

"As a player, I feel responsible to stay healthy and be conditioned so I can compete with these guys for the whole season," he said through an interpreter. "We all have to get together as a whole and perform well."

Yankees: Robertson blows his second save Sunday
In a one-run game in the ninth, Yankees manager Joe Girardi gave the ball to David Robertson to finish off what he presumed would be a series win against the Twins. Instead, Josh Willingham slammed the first pitch he saw into the left-field seats, blowing Robertson's second save in 14 tries.

Robertson continued to struggle and eventually allowed the go-ahead run after two walks and a two-out hit from Brian Dozier. His completed line looked worse -- five runs in two-thirds of an inning -- after two more Yankees relievers each allowed a two-run hit.

"I've got to put it behind me," Robertson said. "We've got another game tomorrow, and if I don't get a chance tomorrow, hopefully I'll get a chance the next day. I'm itching to get back out there. I want to prove that I can still do this. A bad day's a bad day. There's going to be a good day coming up next."

Robertson was not called on to pitch in Monday's game against the Mariners, making up an April 30 rainout, which the Yankees lost, 10-2.

Athletics: A's call up catcher Vogt
Oakland promoted catcher Stephen Vogt from Triple-A Sacramento on Sunday, sending reliever Fernando Rodriguez down to make room for him.

With Brandon Moss (strained right calf) and Josh Reddick (hyperextended right knee) hurting, manager Bob Melvin saw a need for added depth.

"We're a little beat up on the bench right now," he said. "Stephen was doing really well. We always knew that he'd be here at some point."

Vogt, who became the A's third catcher along with Derek Norris and John Jaso, was batting .364 with three home runs and 19 RBIs at Sacramento, including .433 with 15 RBIs over his last 14 games.

The left-handed hitter appeared in 47 games for Oakland in 2013, hitting .252 with four homers and 16 RBIs.

Worth noting
• A's reliever Ryan Cook (right forearm strain) is likely to be activated for Tuesday's series opener after a successful rehab outing Saturday.

• Moss was held out of the A's lineup Sunday for a second straight day, as he continues to nurse the right calf injury suffered in the third inning of Friday's game.

• Yankees slugger Carlos Beltran, continuing to work out a bone spur in his right elbow, played three innings in an extended spring game at the Phillies' Carpenter Complex on Monday in Clearwater, Fla. Beltran, who hasn't played since May 12, went 0-for-3 as the club's designated hitter and had been taking batting practice at Yankee Stadium before traveling to Florida. He said his plan is to play in two more extended spring games and, if everything goes well, join the Yankees on a 10-game road trip that begins on Friday in Kansas City. Comments