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Zito faces Angels in postseason tuneup

Sep 28, 2006 - 1:32 PM Oakland (92-66) at LA Angels (86-72) 10:05 pm EDT

ANAHEIM, California (Ticker) - The Oakland Athletics have chosen Barry Zito to start the first game of the American League Division Series. First, the ace lefthander will make what could be his final regular-season appearance with the club.

One day later than expected, Zito takes the mound Thursday as the A's begin a four-game series against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

Zito (16-9, 3.89 ERA) was slated to pitch Wednesday's finale of a three-game series against Seattle, but Oakland moved him back a day in order that his first playoff start would come on regular rest. In three starts against the Angels this year, Zito has gone 1-1 with a 2.31 ERA.

Expected to be among the more coveted free agents this offseason, Zito has gone 1-1 with a 6.31 ERA in four starts this month. He has a mark of 3-4 with a 6.42 ERA in September the last two years after going 17-4 with a 2.68 ERA in the final full month of the regular season the previous five seasons.

Anaheim counters with John Lackey (12-11, 3.69), who allowed two runs and four hits in seven innings of a 6-2 win at Oakland on Saturday. That began a three-game winning streak for the Angels, who remained mathematically alive in the chase for an AL West title until Tuesday.

Lackey has gone 8-2 with a 3.12 ERA in 17 lifetime starts against the A's, who have managed just a .143 average against him this year. The righthander has allowed just four home runs in 14 starts since the All-Star break and none in his last six outings.

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