A's ready for another pre-All-Star break test 

click to enlarge Oakland Athletics center fielder Coco Crisp (4) walks through the dugout following a 5-0 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates in a baseball game in Pittsburgh early Thursday morning, July 11, 2013. - AP PHOTO/GENE J. PUSKAR
  • AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar
  • Oakland Athletics center fielder Coco Crisp (4) walks through the dugout following a 5-0 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates in a baseball game in Pittsburgh early Thursday morning, July 11, 2013.

When the A's arrived in Pittsburgh earlier this week, the Pirates were leading the National League East with a 53-34 record. Now Oakland returns home for the final series before the All-Star break to face the team with the majors' best record, the Boston Red Sox.

The A's have the league's second-best record at 54-38.

"Looking at the schedule, we knew we'd finish up with the teams with the two best records in the leagues at the time," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "We knew finishing up the first half would be very difficult and we'd have to play well and there would be some low scoring games."But Boston is a legitimate power. Offensively, they do everything well."

The two teams have met this season; the A's dropped two of three at Boston the third week of April. That was before Oakland really had found its stride, back when the team's top two starters, Brett Anderson and Jarrod Parker, were both struggling.

Now, the teams make an interesting matchup. The A's pitching staff has straightened out, despite Anderson being injured, and is leading the league with a 3.68 ERA, while Boston was tops in runs going into Thursday with 484 and in team OPS at .802. Two of the A's team leaders from their 2012 playoff team have helped the Pirates and Red Sox's seasons this year: Brandon Inge is a strong veteran presence with Pittsburgh, Jonny Gomes with Boston.

NEXT GAME

A's vs. Red Sox

WHEN: Today, 7:05 p.m.

WHERE: O.co Coliseum

TV: Comcast SportsNet California

RADIO: KGMZ (95.7 FM)

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