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Angels try for sweep of Athletics

OAKLAND, Calif. -- The Los Angeles Angels will send left-hander Tyler Skaggs to the mound Wednesday afternoon when they try to complete a three-game sweep of the Oakland Athletics at the Oakland Coliseum.

The Angels beat the A's 11-9 in 11 innings Monday afternoon and 8-7 in 10 innings Tuesday night in the first two games of the series. Los Angeles moved past Minnesota on Tuesday into the second American League wild-card spot and pulled to within 2 1/2 games of the New York Yankees for the top wild card.

The Angels lead the Twins by a half-game and the Baltimore Orioles by one game.

"Our offense has been really picking us up this last week," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "We need to do a better job on the mound. ... I think that hopefully these guys will settle in. They've had some rough starts this week."

Skaggs (1-4, 4.89 ERA) is 0-1 with a 9.49 ERA in his past three starts. In his most recent outing, he worked a season-low two-plus innings in a 10-9 loss to the Texas Rangers on Friday. He gave up a season-high six runs (five earned) on five hits and three walks with one strikeout.

"I think his fastball command has been a little off," Scioscia said. "He's had a tough time commanding counts to bring his secondary pitches in as much as he would like to. And then when he's tried to put guys away with a located fastball, it just hasn't been there. His last three outings he's thrown a lot of pitches behind in the count. I think that's affected him, but he's working hard on it.

"Tyler, he's got the stuff. He just is trying to harness it. He's thrown some real good ballgames for us this year when he came back, trying to get back where he's able to repeat pitches and has that confidence that he can put the ball where he needs to."

Skaggs missed 85 games with a straight right oblique. In his six starts since his return from the disabled list, he is 0-3 with a 5.86 ERA.

Skaggs is 0-3 with a 6.75 ERA in four career starts against Oakland, and 0-2, 7.71 in two starts vs. the Athletics this season.

A's left-hander Sean Manaea (9-9, 4.52 ERA) will try to stay on track Wednesday after breaking out of a nasty slump. In his past three starts, Manaea is 1-2 with a 4.08 ERA.

Those aren't great numbers, but compared to the numbers Manaea produced in his previous three starts, they are sparkling. He went 0-2 with a 17.57 ERA in the first half of August, giving up 13 earned runs and 21 hits in 6 2/3 innings.

"I wouldn't say I'm definitely out of it," Manaea said of his funk. "The stuff I've been working on has definitely helped. I just got to try to stick to the plan and just trust that what I'm doing is going to help me finish off the season strong."

In his latest start, on Friday at Seattle, Manaea allowed three runs on seven hits over 6 2/3 innings in a 3-2 loss.

During a stretch of 11 starts from May 20 to July 16, he went 7-2 with a 2.92 ERA. Manaea struck out 67 in 71 innings during that span, but in his past six starts. he has 10 strikeouts over 24 1/3 innings. Even though he is pitching better of late, he has only eight strikeouts in his past three games.

Manaea is taking a glass-half-full view.

"I have noticed that my strikeouts have been lower, but it's a good thing," Manaea said. "Making the hitters make contact, put the ball in play, not trying to get into as deep of counts and let them hit the ball and trust my defense.

"I'm not worried about strikeouts. I know they'll come. There's still a lot of things I need to work on. If I can figure all those things out, then I believe I can have the strikeouts stuff again. But for right now it's nice knowing I can get guys out, get quick outs and hopefully not get as many deep counts."

Manaea is 0-2 with a 6.38 ERA in five career starts against the Angels. He is 0-1 with a 9.53 ERA in three starts vs. Los Angeles this season.

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