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BAL@TEX: Jimenez holds Rangers to one run over 5 2/3

BALTIMORE -- A's lefty Scott Kazmir and Orioles right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez will meet for the rubber match of a three-game set at Camden Yards on Sunday afternoon.

Oakland, owner of the best record in the American League at 38-24, took the first game of the series in a wild 11-inning affair, but the Orioles responded with a win against A's ace Sonny Gray on Saturday.

Kazmir, like Gray, has been hanging around the AL leaders all season. The southpaw enters Sunday's matchup boasting a 2.40 ERA, good for fourth in the AL.

"He's been as consistent as anyone all season," said A's manager Bob Melvin. "Really, all year, you couldn't ask for more."

Just how good has the veteran been?

Kazmir has limited opponents to a .215 batting average and .265 on-base percentage, all the while posting a 4.2 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

He recorded a season-high 10 strikeouts in his last start, a no-decision against the Yankees. He allowed just two runs on six hits and two walks in 6 1/3 innings.

Kazmir is 5-5 with a 4.43 ERA in 16 career starts against the Orioles, including 2-3 with a 4.86 ERA in seven outings at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

Jimenez, meanwhile, has struggled at home this season. He's still looking for his first win, coming into Sunday's game with an 0-4 record and a 5.72 ERA in five starts at Camden Yards.

But the Orioles are hoping he can again find the kind of success he's had before against the A's. Jimenez comes into this game with a 3-0 record and a 3.09 ERA in four starts against Oakland.

He's struck out 25 A's in just 23 1/3 innings. The Orioles need him to go deeper into the game because their bullpen has been taxed since starters are often having problems getting into or past the sixth inning.

A's: Crisp to be held out of Sunday's lineup
In an effort to get Coco Crisp back to full strength, Melvin plans to rest his center fielder during Sunday's finale.

Crisp will still be available off the bench.

Crisp, who continues to be affected by neck soreness, didn't start Friday either. He was back in the lineup Saturday and hit a home run in his second at-bat.

Melvin said the outfielder will also sit out one of the club's three games in Anaheim in advance of Thursday's off-day. The hope is that Crisp's neck discomfort is no longer an issue once the A's return home and begin a three-game series with the Yankees on Friday.

Orioles: Hardy not worried about errors
The Orioles remain one of baseball's top defensive teams, even though they're having more problems in the field this year.

Shortstop J.J. Hardy has been having the most problems recently. He made three errors in Thursday's loss in Texas and made another crucial miscue in the 11th inning Friday night, which helped Oakland score the winning run in a 4-3 victory over the Orioles.

That gave Hardy four errors in two games. The Gold Glove shortstop only had two months last year where he even made three errors.

But Hardy said that he's not going to dwell on the problems. He just puts them out of his mind and moves on.

"[I just] go out there and catch the ball," Hardy said. "[The three-error game] wasn't even in the back of my mind. I got past it. [It] was in the past."

Worth noting
• The A's are 23-4 when scoring first, which is the best record in the Majors.

• The Orioles are 23-9 when scoring four or more runs, compared to 8-20 when plating three runs or fewer.

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