The Athletics began their tough 13-game stretch against playoff contenders on the wrong foot on Friday.
After ending up on the wrong side of a 9-7 decision to the Orioles, Oakland fell 3 1/2 games behind American League West-leading Texas and saw its lead over Baltimore for the second AL Wild Card spot trimmed to two games.
It's still much too early for the A's to concentrate on just a Wild Card berth, as their focus is solely on Texas and the AL West.
"You'd like to win the division first," A's manager Bob Melvin said, whose club finishes its 13-game stretch against the Rangers. "If you don't, then you want to be in that [Wild Card] game. Any time you get in the postseason, that's terrific. Our sights, for us right now, are still on the division."
"It's a little bit of an easier road when you win the division, rather than have to play a one-game playoff to get into a longer series,"
The Orioles, like the Athletics, have their sights on the playoffs and will turn to Chris Tillman to try to narrow that two-game gap.
Tillman is in the midst of another solid season, but is coming off a less-than-spectacular start against the Rays. The right-hander gave up four earned runs over six innings and was the victim of a pair of home runs as he picked up just his fourth loss of the season.
"They're all tough," Tillman said. "None of them are easy. I think we know what this is coming down to [in the division]. I'd like to be better there."
Tillman will be opposed by Jarrod Parker, who was moved up to start in place of Tommy Milone. With an off-day Thursday, the A's opted to skip Milone this weekend, as the lefty has struggled in each of his last two outings.
Parker, meanwhile, has been on a roll recently. The right-hander is 3-0 with a 2.15 ERA in four starts this month and is coming off a complete-game victory over the Mariners, in which he allowed just one run and struck out eight.
Orioles: Hammel nearing return
Baltimore starter Jason Hammel felt "outstanding" after throwing off the mound for the first time Friday since suffering a forearm injury.
Hammel, who has been on the disabled list since July 31, threw around 45 pitches in his first mound session, and mixed in all of pitches in the process.
"I'm not trying to stay on the DL. I'm trying to get back, so I might as well let it fly," said Hammel, who had difficulty throwing his slider with the injury. "It felt good for a few days now with the long toss and everything. I probably threw 30 from the stretch, next 15 from the windup and I felt real good."
The 30-year-old will stretch it out a little bit more Sunday before hopefully taking a rehab assignment in the middle of next week.
When he's healthy, however, it may cause a logjam, although manager Buck Showalter hasn't ruled out a six-man rotation in September.
Until a decision needs to be made, the Orioles will continue to mold Hammel as a starter during his rehab.
"I would think, for sure, his first appearance there [on rehab] would be as a starter," Showalter said of Hammel, who will likely need two rehab games. "Just to make sure he starts an inning and gets time to warm up and all that, for sure. And then also there's things that could change up here, which dictates that he needs to come back in a certain role."
Athletics: Suzuki happy to be back in Oakland
The Athletics reacquired former catcher Kurt Suzuki from the Nationals on Friday, and both the player and club are happy with the reunion.
"It feels good," said Suzuki, who spent the first 5 1/2 seasons of his career with Oakland. "I'm shocked, to say the least. I mean, I couldn't be happier to come back where it all started and help this team get into the playoffs."
The 29-year-old hit .254 with 57 home runs, 302 RBIs, and a .311 on-base percentage in his time with the Athletics, and was a welcome addition to a club that had lost both of its catchers over recent days.
"The tough part about replacing a catcher, as far along in the season as we are, is the transition period with the pitchers. So this one is an easy one," Melvin said. "He knows most of our guys -- a team leader, always has been. I don't know if the front office could get a better guy for us."
• The A's are 8-11 in August, but they have recorded eight consecutive winning months dating back to June 2012.
• Baltimore is 4-1 against the A's this season. Its only other series was in April, when the O's won their first four-game set victory in Oakland since July 31-Aug. 3, 1997.
• The Orioles are 20-11 against the AL West this season, while Oakland is 13-14 against the AL East.