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08/04/10 9:01 PM ET

Lee, Braden face off in AL West battle

Dallas Braden looked as though he was going to be a sore spot in the A's starting rotation this season, but thankfully for Oakland, he seems to have turned things around.

The A's left-hander, who will face American League West-rival Texas on Friday, won his past two starts after going winless in his previous 10 following his perfect game.

In his most recent start, against the White Sox on Saturday, Braden tossed his second complete game of the year to beat Chicago for the second time in two starts.

In those two starts, the lefty threw 15 1/3 innings, giving up five earned runs on 13 hits. He struck out 10 -- five in each game -- and walked only three batters.

Braden will be going up against fellow left-hander Cliff Lee in Friday's series opener. Lee has gone 1-2 with the Rangers, but is 9-5 on the year, including his starts with Seattle. He has gone 5-3 in his past 10 starts with a 2.32 ERA during that span, striking out 61 batters.

With those kind of numbers and the rest of the Rangers performing well, it's sure to be an exciting three-game series.

"We have our work cut out," Oakland manager Bob Geren said. "They have some good pitchers. That being said, our pitchers have been very good, and they tend to pitch better at home. We'll probably have some close games."

Indeed, the A's will have their hands full against the first-place Rangers, who now have official word on the team's sale. Team president Nolan Ryan's group won Wednesday's auction and the right to purchase the franchise, and he announced on Thursday that Ron Washington, whose contract is up after this season, would be at the helm next year.

"That's awesome," Washington said. "I want to be here. With everything that's been going on, the business stuff is not something we want to think about right now. We're trying to make sure things on the field don't get distracted."

Rangers: Lewis taking tough-luck losses
After taking the loss on Tuesday despite a quality start, Colby Lewis has suffered four of the rotation's six losses in quality starts this year. The only American League starters with more quality losses than Lewis are Oakland's Ben Sheets and Baltimore's Brian Matusz, each with five. ... Josh Hamilton was the unanimous choice for July's Rangers Player of the Month after batting a team-high .418 (41-for-98) in the month, good for the third-highest average in the AL and fifth highest in baseball.

Athletics: Starters hitting their stride
Oakland's starters are 17-8 with a 3.07 ERA (74 earned runs in 217 2/3 innings ) over the past 33 games. This comes after they went 23-27 with a 3.92 ERA over the first 74 games. For the whole season, they have a 3.63 ERA (262 earned runs in 649 innings pitched), which is the lowest mark in the AL and the fourth lowest in all of baseball. ... Oakland has stolen 26 bases since the All-Star break, the second most in the Majors behind Tampa Bay, which has 27. ... The A's have homered three times over the past 10 games after going deep 14 times over the previous 11 contests. They have hit just 69 home runs this season, with Seattle (64) being the only team that has hit fewer.

Worth Noting
Lee faced the A's on July 27, and gave up one unearned run through nine innings before his team won the game in extra innings. ... Texas reliever Darren O'Day extended his scoreless innings streak to 23 1/3 frames over his last 25 appearances on Thursday, the longest such streak in the big leagues.

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


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