(SportsNetwork.com) - The Oakland Athletics enter a big weekend series with the rival LA Angels of Anaheim on a down note and will try to add to their lead atop the AL West standings Friday at O.co Coliseum.
The Athletics are 1 1/2 games ahead of the Angels in the division standings and have lost six of their last eight games. They split a four-game series with the Detroit Tigers and suffered a 5-4 loss Thursday, as Jesse Chavez was touched for three runs in six innings to suffer the loss.
Oakland was down 5-2 and rallied for two runs in the ninth, but the comeback attempt fell short. Jed Lowrie came on to pinch-hit in the ninth with two outs and grounded out to end the game.
"We had plenty of opportunities today," A's manager Bob Melvin said.
Nick Punto hit a two-run homer, while Coco Crisp and John Jaso each had two hits for the Athletics.
Drew Pomeranz will try to lead the A's to a win when he takes the mound Friday. Pomeranz has a 4-2 record in 13 games (4 starts) to go along with a 1.38 earned run average and had won three straight appearances until Sunday's 3-1 loss at Toronto. He lasted four innings and gave up two runs.
Pomeranz has faced the Angels twice this season in relief and is 3-0 in six games (2 starts) at home.
The Angels will resume their 10-game AL West road trip and opened the journey by splitting four games against the Seattle Mariners.
In Thursday's 7-5 victory over the Mariners, Erick Aybar highlighted a four- run fourth inning with a two-run homer and finished 3-for-5 with three RBI. Mike Trout ended with three hits as well and drove in two runs, while C.J. Cron went 3-for-5 with two runs scored.
Kole Calhoun scored three times and added two hits for the Angels, who are 5-0-1 in their last six series and have won 14 of the past 20 games to put the heat on Oakland in the division.
"I got a couple of good pitches to hit tonight, got some knocks, got on base and scored some runs," Calhoun said.
Matt Shoemaker got the win even though he allowed three runs in 5 1/3 innings and Ernesto Frieri got the final two outs of the game for his eighth save.
Anaheim is 16-10 this month and won despite giving slugger Albert Pujols the day off. Pujols sat for the first time this season and tried talking manager Mike Scioscia out of the decision. Pujols is batting .262 with a team-leading 14 homers and should be back in the lineup Friday.
In other team news, Josh Hamilton is expected to restart his rehab assignment with Triple-A Salt Lake on Friday.
The Angels will visit Houston for three games on this trip.
Garrett Richards gets the start for the Halos tonight and is 4-1 with a 3.00 earned run average in 10 starts. He is 0-1 in his previous two appearances and did not record a decision in Sunday's 4-3 win over Kansas City, as he allowed three runs in seven innings.
Richards has given up eight runs in his past two starts and faced Oakland in a 10-9 loss on April 15, when he posted a no-decision and was touched for five runs and eight hits in seven innings. In nine career meetings (5 starts) with the A's the righty is 0-2 with a 5.29 ERA.
Oakland took two of three matchups at Angel Stadium in mid-April. The Angels have won 10 of the last 16 showdowns in the Bay Area.