Loaiza set to lead A's against Sox

Loaiza set to lead A's against Sox

Resurgent righty Esteban Loaiza will try to maintain the momentum he and the A's have been building throughout August when he takes on Red Sox rookie Kason Gabbard on Monday in the opener of a three-game series at McAfee Coliseum.

Loaiza is 3-0 this month, and his 1.77 ERA in three starts is the second-lowest in the American League behind Kenny Rogers of Detroit's 1.73. Loaiza also is coming off his best outing of the season, a four-hit shutout on Wednesday in Toronto.

"I'm doing the same things I've done my whole career," Loaiza said. "It's just that now I'm healthy."

Loaiza was anything but healthy early this season, getting off to an awful start before going on the disabled list with a strained left trapezius from April 29-June 8. He was 3-5 with a 6.43 ERA in 10 starts before the All-Star break, and he's 4-2 with a 3.79 ERA in nine starts since the break.

"This is the Loaiza I know," said designated hitter Frank Thomas, a teammate of Loaiza's when Loaiza was the AL Cy Young Award runner-up in 2003 and the AL's starting pitcher in the 2004 All-Star Game. "He's a big-time pitcher, and he's getting it done when we need him the most."

The Red Sox will present a formidable challenge for Loaiza, who is 3-2 with a 4.76 ERA in 10 career appearances (nine starts) in his career against Boston. But the Red Sox have been reeling, losing nine of their past 11 games.

"I think that five-game series they had against the Yankees [last weekend] probably took a lot out of them," A's manager Ken Macha said. "They had a day-night doubleheader to start it off, and then a Sunday night game delayed by rain followed by a day game on Monday. I think that would have an adverse affect on just about any team.

"That said, they're still the Boston Red Sox. They've still got Manny [Ramirez] and [David] Ortiz and [Jonathan] Papelbon, and we're gonna see [Josh] Beckett and [Curt] Schilling in this series, so we're gonna have to continue to play good baseball, or they'll put a hurt on us."

Before Beckett and Schilling take their turns, though, the A's will get their first look at Gabbard, a rookie lefty who will be making his second Major League start.

"I don't know anything about him," Macha said, "but if they're throwing him out there in a pennant race, I'm sure he's a quality pitcher."

Pitching matchup
OAK: RHP Esteban Loaiza (12-7, 3.79 ERA)
Loaiza has started once against the Red Sox this season, allowing three runs on six hits and six walks over five innings in Boston on July 13.

BOS: LHP Kason Gabbard (0-2, 3.38 ERA)
Gabbard started against the Mariners on July 22, giving up eight hits and two earned runs over 5 1/3 innings. He has pitched twice in relief, giving up a run over 2 2/3 innings.

Player to watch
Ortiz is 12-for-29 (.429) with three doubles, six walks and a .529 on-base percentage in his career against Loaiza.

On the Internet
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

On television

On radio
• KYCY 1550 AM, KNTS 1220 AM

Up next
• Tuesday: Red Sox (RHP Josh Beckett, 14-8, 5.21 ERA) at A's (TBD), 7:05 p.m. PT
• Wednesday: Red Sox (RHP Curt Schilling, 14-6, 3.95 ERA) at A's (LHP Barry Zito, 14-8, 3.64 ERA), 12:35 p.m. PT
• Thursday: Off-day

Mychael Urban is a national writer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.