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Preview: Angels (66-66) at Athletics (58-75)

Game: 3
Venue: Coliseum
Date: September 02, 2015 3:35 PM EDT

Pitching for the AL’s worst team could hurt Sonny Gray’s bid for the Cy Young Award, but he’s continued to do his part even when the offense or defense have failed him.

He had only himself to blame the last time he faced the Los Angeles Angels, though.

The right-hander makes his fifth start against the visiting Angels as the Oakland Athletics look to win for the fourth time in five games Wednesday.

Gray (12-6, 2.13 ERA) has a 1.60 ERA over his last six starts, but he’s 2-2 in that stretch with the A’s (58-75) providing an average of just 2.80 runs of support.

He leads the AL in ERA and opponents’ batting average (.201) despite losing 6-4 on Friday at Arizona. Oakland’s defense, which leads the majors with 104 errors, has been partly responsible for Gray allowing five unearned runs over his last three starts.

“I’m used to Sonny’s movement,” said catcher Stephen Vogt, who allowed two passed balls in the sixth inning of Gray’s last outing. “There’s no excuse, especially when he makes good pitches to get some of the best hitters in the league out.

“We’ve talked all year about how we can’t keep giving teams four or five outs.”

Gray couldn’t fault his defense in his last outing against the Angels, when he allowed a season-worst six runs – five earned – while matching his career low of two strikeouts in six-plus innings of Oakland’s 12-7 defeat June 19. He’d won his previous three starts this season against Los Angeles with a 1.19 ERA.

The A’s had their three-game winning streak snapped with Tuesday’s 6-2 loss to the Angels (66-66), who had dropped their previous four.

Los Angeles remained 3 1/2 games back of Texas for the AL’s second wild-card spot and trimmed its deficit to 6 1/2 behind West-leading Houston. Kole Calhoun went 3 for 5 with a homer and Carlos Perez added two hits.

David Freese had a hit in his return from a five-week stay on the disabled because of a fractured right index finger.

“We hit a big pothole for a while but they also know that we’re a good team,” manager Mike Scioscia said. “There are some key things that if we can get them in place, we’re going to have a good chance to reach our goal. Part of it’s getting starting pitching and part of it’s the offense.”

Andrew Heaney (5-2, 3.11) looks to continue his success on the road while making his first start against the A’s since joining the Angels.

The left-hander had the worst of his 12 outings when he gave up eight runs in a 15-3 loss to Toronto on Aug. 22, but he bounced back Friday and tossed six scoreless innings in the Angels’ 3-1 loss at Cleveland.

That performance improved his ERA to 1.72 in five road starts.

Heaney’s only start against the A’s came June 29, 2014, while with Miami. He pitched five scoreless before allowing all four runs in his sixth and final inning of a 4-3 loss.

Oakland got a homer from Brett Lawrie in the first Tuesday, then couldn’t manage anything else until Vogt scored on a wild pitch in the ninth. The A’s averaged 5.8 runs over their previous seven home games.

Outfielder Sam Fuld sat out with back spasms and is unlikely to play in this contest.