A.J. Griffin has been a pleasant surprise for the AL wild card-leading Oakland Athletics.
The rookie right-hander looks to remain undefeated and help the A's match a club record with their 12th consecutive road victory Wednesday night against the Los Angeles Angels.
Though Griffin (5-0, 2.21 ERA) didn't make his major league debut until June 24 and missed almost a month with a strained shoulder, he joined Todd Burns in 1988 as the only Oakland pitchers to begin their careers 5-0. He allowed a run and struck out seven in 5 1-3 innings to outpitch Felix Hernandez in a 6-1 win at Seattle on Friday.
Griffin has yielded two runs in 12 1-3 innings while winning both starts since coming off the disabled list.
"I just try to pitch the best game I can, keep us in the game," the right-hander said.
Griffin, who grew up down the way from Anaheim in suburban San Diego, is 3-0 with a 1.54 ERA in four starts away from home. Facing the Angels (77-65) for the first time, he'll try to help Oakland (81-60) to its first 12-game road winning streak since July 31-Aug. 15, 1971.
Brandon Moss and Yoenis Cespedes each homered and Jerry Blevins pitched out of a ninth-inning jam to help the A's to a 6-5 win Tuesday, their sixth in eight games at Anaheim in 2012. After closer Grant Balfour allowed two runs and left with runners on first and third with no outs in a 6-5 game, Blevins struck out Kendrys Morales and got Howie Kendrick to hit into a game-ending double play to help Oakland remain three games behind first-place Texas in the West.
"I just wanted to pick us up and help this team," said Blevins, who earned his first save since 2010.
Moss has homered in each of the first two games of the set, and three of his last four versus Los Angeles. Third baseman Josh Donaldson is 4 for 7 in the series and batting .412 (7 for 17) while the A's have gone 5-0 on a seven-game trip that followed a three-game home sweep at the hands of the Angels.
Oakland, however, could face a serious challenge against scheduled Los Angeles starter Ervin Santana (8-11, 5.21), who is 1-1 with a 2.45 ERA against the A's in 2012. Both of those outings have come at home where he allowed four hits and fanned nine over 7 2-3 innings of a 4-0 victory over Oakland on May 15.
Santana, 8-3 with a 2.02 ERA in 13 home starts versus Oakland, is 4-1 with a 3.51 ERA in his last eight overall. The right-hander has given up two runs and four hits in each of his last two starts, the most recent Friday when he struck out 10 over 6 2-3 innings of a 3-2 home win over Detroit.
Torii Hunter had three hits, including a homer, and three RBIs on Tuesday for the Angels, who had won 11 of 12 prior to this series.
"This one definitely stings a little more, because we had opportunities," Hunter said.
Hunter is batting .444 (24 for 54) with two homers and 12 RBIs in his last 13 contests. He's hit .347 with three home runs and 12 RBIs in 12 games versus Oakland in 2012.
Los Angeles star rookie Mike Trout is 7 for 11 in his last three home games against the A's.