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SD@OAK: Blackley goes six, earns first win since 2004

The A's are in the midst of one of their best stretches of the year and will be looking to score a sweep on Thursday and elongate the Dodgers' speed bump.

Oakland has won seven of its past eight games after Wednesday's 4-1 win, which ensured that the A's will claim a third series in a row for the first time all season.

The Dodgers, meanwhile, have lost six of their last 11 games, hardly a devastating stretch but still a noteworthy slide for the team with the best record in the National League.

"We're not surprised we're winning games," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. "We all thought we would. Maybe a bit surprised we've had the best record considering that Matt Kemp and Mark Ellis have gone down."

Trying to salvage a game in the series and get the Dodgers back on track is Clayton Kershaw, who has been dealing with plantar fasciitis during a slump of his own.

Kershaw was 4-1 with a 1.90 ERA in his first nine starts, but he is 1-2 with a 4.68 ERA since. On Friday against the White Sox, the lefty allowed five runs (four earned) on eight hits in six innings.

Taking the mound to try to keep Oakland's hot streak going is Travis Blackley, who gave up two runs on four hits in six innings against San Diego on Friday to earn his first win since July 1, 2004.

Blackley made three appearances out of the A's bullpen after being acquired from the Giants on May 15 and was moved to the starting rotation on May 28. The A's have been working to get him deeper into games in each start since, and the six-inning, 104-pitch performance on Friday was his longest of the season.

"It's based on your pitch counts, too," A's manager Bob Melvin said of stretching Blackley out. "You have 100-110 pitches in the fifth inning, you're not going to go eight. Once he becomes more economical, then we're all for him going deeper in games. He's just going to have to throw a few more strikes. His ball-strike ratio is going to have to be better, but we're seeing progress, definitely."

Dodgers: Hairston snaps skid
• Jerry Hairston ended an 0-for-19 hitless streak with a seventh-inning single on Wednesday.

Despite spending May 7-25 on the disabled list due to a left hamstring strain, Hairston is hitting .311 this season.

• Elian Herrera was 0-for-4 on Wednesday, giving him consecutive starts without reaching base for the first time since making his Major League debut on May 15.

Herrera had reached safely in 24 of his first 26 starts.

Athletics: Cespedes returns with a bang
• After being limited to just one at-bat in Oakland's previous 10 games because of a strained left hamstring, Yoenis Cespedes went 2-for-4 with a double and a bloop RBI single in his return on Wednesday.

Batting cleanup and serving as a designated hitter for the first time in his career, Cespedes narrowly missed a home run when his towering fly ball to left was caught on the warning track in the eighth.

• Seth Smith is batting .340 (35-for-103) with seven home runs and 20 RBIs as an outfielder compared to .178 (13-for-73) with no homers and five RBIs as a designated hitter.

Worth noting
• Oakland's Josh Reddick is hitless in his last 19 at-bats, one shy of the longest hitless stretch of his career.

• The A's are 8-6 in Interleague Play while the Dodgers are 5-6. Comments