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Preview: A's Looking To End String Of Losses Against Pirates

(Sports Network) - The Oakland Athletics' chances of ending its current slide just got a little better with thePittsburgh Pirates in town for a three-game set that starts with tonight's series opener at the Coliseum.

Oakland was just swept in three games by the visiting Cincinnati Reds and suffered a 3-0 loss in Wednesday's series finale. Johnny Cueto shut the A's down with seven shutout innings, while Oakland starter Vin Mazzaro was dealt the hard-luck loss for giving up just two runs in seven innings of work.

"I thought [Mazzaro] pitched good," A's catcher Kurt Suzuki said on the team's website. "It was probably his best performance of the year. He was attacking the strike zone and not necessarily trying to force strikeouts but just get weak contact, which he did."

Conor Jackson and Mark Ellis each posted a pair of hits for the Athletics, who have lost 10 of their last 12 contests. Jackson has 10 hits and three runs batted in since coming over from Arizona via trade.

Oakland starter Ben Sheets hopes to put the clamps down on a personal four- start losing streak when he takes the mound Friday. Sheets, who hasn't won since May 8 versus Tampa Bay, is coming off last Saturday's 4-3 loss at St. Louis in which he allowed four runs and six hits in seven innings.

Sheets fell to 2-7 in 15 starts to go along with a 4.95 ERA this season. The right-hander hasn't fared too well at home either, going 2-2 in seven starts. He is 8-8 with a 2.92 ERA in 22 career starts against Pittsburgh during his many years with Milwaukee.

The Pirates were just swept in three games at Texas to kick off a nine-game road trip and have lost 15 of 17 games overall, including 14 straight on the road. Pittsburgh hasn't dropped 15 straight away from home since a 19-game slide July 23-Aug. 30, 1985.

In Thursday's 6-5 loss to the Rangers in Arlington, Vladimir Guerrero singled home the game-winning run in the bottom of the ninth off of Pirates reliever Steven Jackson, who was dealt the loss. Bucs starter Jeff Karstens recorded a no-decision for yielding three runs -- two earned -- and seven hits in 5 1/3 innings.

"I wish I would've gotten it in the dirt," Steven Jackson said of his pitch to Guerrero. "He's a great hitter. He's been doing that his whole career."

Pedro Alvarez drove in two runs, Garrett Jones chipped in three hits and an RBI and Jose Tabata went 3-for-5 for the Pirates, who will also visit the Chicago Cubs on the trek and own a 9-28 mark away from the Steel City this season. Jones is hitting .423 in his past 14 contests.

Rookie Brad Lincoln is slated to make his fourth start tonight for the Buccos and is 0-1 with a 6.50 ERA in three outings so far. Lincoln lost to the Chicago White Sox back on June 15 for his first career decision, then did not factor into the outcome of Sunday's 5-3 win over Cleveland.

Lincoln, a right-hander, gave up three runs and eight hits in six innings. He has lasted six innings in each of his three starts this season and will face Oakland for the first time.

The A's are 6-0 all-time against the Pirates and swept a three-game series by the Bay the last time these two clubs met in 2004. Oakland took all three matchups in Pittsburgh during the 2002 campaign.