for this game

A's take on Phillies aiming to gain more ground

Sep 20, 2014 - 2:08 PM ( - The Oakland Athletics hope to gain more ground in the American League wild card race on Saturday afternoon in the second contest of a three-game series with the Philadelphia Phillies.

The Athletics came into this series having been swept in three games by the last-place Texas Rangers, but rebounded to win a 3-1 decision over the Phillies thanks to Jon Lester's strong outing.

Lester gave up one run on five hits and a pair of walks in seven innings of work, striking out seven to win his third straight start.

"You feel like you don't have to score many runs for him, because he's going to do his job," A's manager Bob Melvin said of Lester. "Every time out there, he's deep into games. He's 110-plus pitches, and he comes out with the lead. That's all you can ask of him."

The victory was only Oakland's third in its last nine games, but the club did move a half-game up on Kansas City for the league's first wild card spot.

Ryan Howard homered for the Phillies, who have lost five of their last six games. Starter David Buchanan gave up three runs on six hits over 6 2/3 innings in the loss.

"They found some holes with their hits," Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said. "We had a couple of opportunities, but we couldn't get the big hit."

Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins, who was born in Oakland, remained out after suffering a left hamstring strain on Sept. 8. He is hoping to return at some point for this series.

With Jason Hammel away from the club to attend the birth of his second child, left-hander Drew Pomeranz will step in today for Oakland with a spot start.

Pomeranz has not started since Aug. 27 nor pitched in a game for the Athletics since Sept. 2. However, he has made 19 appearances this season and gone 4-3 with a 2.85 earned run average in nine starts.

"It's an acquired taste to pitch out of the bullpen and then go into the rotation knowing that you're expected to throw a certain amount of pitches," said Melvin on Oakland's website. "He's done it numerous times for us this year and had success doing it, so if there's anybody that you feel confident in in that type of role, it's him."

Pomeranz, who has not won since May 30, is 0-1 with a 6.00 ERA in two previous meetings with the Phillies.

Jerome Williams starts today for the Phillies and has been a big boost to their rotation despite two straight losing starts, including a tough-luck 1-0 setback to San Diego on Monday.

The 32-year-old righty allowed just one unearned run over 7 2/3 innings, giving up three hits and two walks while striking out six.

"It's tough," said Williams. "I just wanted to throw up zeros."

Williams is 3-2 with a 2.84 ERA in seven starts since joining the Phillies and 5-5 lifetime versus Oakland with a 3.96 ERA in 17 games with 10 starts.

The Phils and A's are meeting for the first time since Philadelphia won two of three games at home from June 24-26, 2011.