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05/08/10 8:10 PM ET

A's need to get early jump on Rays

The A's got to the Rays early Saturday to set up the rubber match of their three-game series at the Oakland Coliseum, and that was a feat in itself.

Rays starters hadn't allowed an earned run in 23 consecutive innings heading into Saturday's game, but three runs in the first two innings off Rays starter Wade Davis proved to be enough to even the series.

The A's are now 13-5 when scoring first, and doing so against the Rays these days is downright imperative.

It'll be James Shields on the mound for the Rays in the finale, which will wrap up the middle of three visits to West Coast teams on what has been a 4-1 trip.

Rays starters have allowed three runs or fewer in 26 of their 30 games, and Shields -- their Opening Day starter -- is coming off an eight-inning gem at Seattle for his fourth win in as many starts.

He'll be meeting lefty Dallas Braden, seeking a win after two straight losses in which he posted a combined 7.36 ERA. Braden will host fans from his hometown of Stockton in Section 209 -- commemorating the area code in that part of California's Central Valley -- as he makes his seventh start of the season.

Rays: Thanks but no thanks, Superman
After watching young starter David Price do the Fosbury Flop over catcher Dioner Navarro on an A's bunt attempt, manager Joe Maddon had a mixed review with a staunch bottom line. "I love the zeal of that, but let Navvy make the play," Maddon said. That's what Navarro did, ducking Price and throwing to first for the out. ... It was that kind of play that has Maddon appreciating Navarro's contributions even when mired in the throes of a 3-for-34 skid at the plate. "With everybody down on his batting average, he's playing really, really well defensively," Maddon said of Navarro, batting .158. Navarro sat in favor of John Jaso on Saturday. ... Jason Bartlett, who drove in B.J. Upton with a second-inning single Saturday, is now batting .429 (6-for-14) with runners in scoring position.

Athletics: Healing powers working in Oakland
As long as the injury list remains on a daily basis, at least there are positive signs when manager Bob Geren goes through the litany of wounded. "I think guys are improving and we're really getting good news the last few days," said Geren, who said catcher Kurt Suzuki (intercostal strain) and outfielder Coco Crisp (fractured pinkie finger) are probably on the fastest tracks back. ... Closer Andrew Bailey's spotless ninth ran his scoreless streak to 21 2/3 innings, dating back to last Sept. 6. He hasn't allowed a run in 34 of his last 35 outings, and has converted 26 consecutive save opportunities, the second longest streak in club history. ... The A's are now 9-3 in day games, the best in the Majors.

Worth noting:
The A's and Rays stand even at 30-30 since 2004, with each team winning the season series three times in the last six seasons. The Rays currently lead the 2010 series, 3-1. ... The Rays were just the fifth Major League team to go 13-1 in their first 14 road games before dropping Saturday's game.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.