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Angels Hope Kazmir Can Turn Things Around Against Oakland

(Sports Network) - The Oakland Athletics are coming off a beating in the Bronx and are back in the Bay Area to kick off a nine-game homestand starting with Friday's opener of a three-game series versus the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

The A's lost all four games at Yankee Stadium and were blanked 5-0 in Thursday's series finale. New York ace CC Sabathia improved to 19-5 with eight shutout innings, while Oakland starter Dallas Braden tossed five innings of one-run ball to suffer the loss.

"He was throwing the ball well, but he started cramping up in his legs and couldn't get rid of it," A's manager Bob Geren said of Braden. It was to a point where he couldn't go on."

Braden, Jerry Blevins and Michael Wuertz all gave up home runs for the Athletics, who went 4-6 on the road trip and fell 10 games behind Texas for the NL West lead. The A's were outscored, 29-11, in the series.

Oakland will also host Seattle and Boston on the residency and is an impressive 38-27 at the Coliseum this season.

Taking the mound in tonight's series opener for the A's will be Gio Gonzalez, who's won two straight and five of his last seven decisions. Gonzalez threw seven shutout innings in a win at Cleveland on August 24 before holding the rival Rangers to two runs in six innings in last Sunday's 8-2 win in Arlington. He was able to push his mark to 12-8 with a 3.23 ERA in 27 starts this season.

Gonzalez defeated the Angels at the Big A in his 2010 debut on April 9, as he lasted six innings and allowed two runs with six K's. The lefty is 2-1 in four career starts in this series.

The Angels won two of three meetings with Seattle and are coming off Wednesday's 4-2 victory in the series finale. Hideki Matsui clubbed a two-run homer in the seventh inning and Alberto Callaspo added a solo shot in the eighth for Anaheim, which is 10 1/2 games off the lead in the AL West and won for just the third time in 10 tries.

Halos starter Trevor Bell allowed two runs and nine hits with six strikeouts over six innings for the win, while Fernando Rodney notched his eighth save with a pair of K's in the ninth.

"They got some hits off Trevor, but that was just a function of him attacking the strike zone with his fastball," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "I thought he had good life on his pitches, got the ball into good zones most of the time. They definitely got some opportunities and he made some pitches to get out of some opportunities and showed us a lot out there."

Scioscia hopes Scott Kazmir can snap out of his funk when he toes the rubber for the Angels tonight. Kazmir is 1-7 with an 8.29 ERA in his last nine starts and was beaten by Baltimore his last time out on Saturday. He allowed four runs in 5 2/3 innings of a 5-0 score, and hasn't pitched through the sixth inning in three straight and five of six starts.

The left-hander sports an 8-12 mark in 22 starts this season and is aiming for a measure of revenge against Oakland, which pounded Kazmir for 13 runs and 11 hits in five innings of a 15-1 blowout back on July 10. Kazmir, however, is 9-4 with a 3.95 ERA in 16 career starts against the A's.

Anaheim has won seven of 13 matchups with Oakland this season.