Kazmir to face A's in search of slider

Kazmir to face A's in search of slider

OAKLAND -- Scott Kazmir isn't greedy. He won't ask his teammates for runs, even though they've provided precious few (eight) for him while he's been on the mound in his five starts since arriving from Tampa Bay, fashioning a 2.01 ERA.

What Kazmir wants is something he can control: his slider. It's been an ongoing search of late, his pursuit of that crisp, clean breaking ball that complements his 92-96-mph heater and can break hitters' backs -- and hearts -- with two strikes.

"It'd be nice to get the slider back, to help me finish off some hitters," Kazmir said.

Nice and timely.

His next start, after he finishes this business with the Athletics on Saturday, will be at Fenway Park in Game 3 of the American League Division Series, unless something unforeseen happens between now and then.

Kazmir has thoroughly enjoyed his time with the Angels, which began on Aug. 28, when he was shipped to the opposite coast for three prospects, including a potential star in Sean Rodriguez.

"It's great being part of this staff," Kazmir said, "with a chance to get back to the World Series."

He was there with the amazing Rays last October, when they ran into the sizzling Phillies.

Like three of his partners (excluding Jered Weaver) in the rotation Mike Scioscia calls the best in his 10 years in Anaheim, Kazmir spent part of the season (33 games) on the disabled list while with Tampa Bay, but he's healthy -- and armed and dangerous.

Since the 2006 season, Kazmir leads Major League starters with an average of 9.5 strikeouts per nine innings.

"He knows what he's doing out there," John Lackey said of his fellow Texan. "He's been there, and it shows."

Pitching matchup
LAA: LHP Scott Kazmir (9-9, 5.06 ERA)
Kazmir has a 2.01 ERA in five starts with the Angels, but they have given him only eight runs while he's been on the mound, accounting for his 1-2 record. He has 23 strikeouts while yielding 25 hits and nine walks in 31 1/3 innings. His fastball command has been exceptional, but he has had trouble getting good bite and location on his slider.

OAK: LHP Dana Eveland (2-3, 7.09 ERA)
Eveland struggled against the Angels on Saturday, allowing eight runs, five earned, on five hits over 3 1/3 innings. Eveland also struggled with his command as he walked four batters and struck out just one. But he still was only saddled with a no-decision as the A's erased a seven-run deficit over the next three innings. He'll face the Angels again in Oakland on Saturday, hoping for a better result. He's is 0-3 with a 6.66 ERA in his career against the Angels.

Tidbits
Howard Kendrick (infected cut on his right knee from sliding into home plate) and Erick Aybar (bruised right hand) are expected back in the lineup on Saturday, Scioscia said, and both should be primed for the Red Sox next week. ... Juan Rivera upped his career-high home run total to 25 with a solo shot on Friday night. ... It went down officially as a double steal by Kendry Morales and Mike Napoli, and a steal of home for Morales, but what happened in the second inning was the A's botched a rundown play, and Morales jumped over the tag of catcher Kurt Suzuki, despite Suzuki's protest that he caught Morales' leg with a tag. ... Morales is second in the AL in RBIs since the All-Star break with 58 and has 107 overall, ranking second in the league in slugging and third in extra-base hits.

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Up next
• Sunday: Angels (Joe Saunders, 15-7, 4.62) at Athletics (Edgar Gonzalez, 0-4, 5.51), 1:05 p.m. PT

Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.