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Athletics stumble again heading into key weekend home series with first-place Angels

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OAKLAND, Calif. - This is a week when the Oakland Athletics could really use some momentum. The first-place Los Angeles Angels are coming to the Coliseum for a key weekend series in the heart of the stretch run.

Instead, the A's are still searching for answers to their funk and settled for a split with the New York Mets in their quick two-game interleague series following Wednesday's 8-5 loss.

"We have an off day tomorrow to clear our heads," manager Bob Melvin said. "We know it will be an exciting series and a big series coming up. It should be a big crowd and so forth, so you should be able to move past what is a difficult period for us right now and play for the moment."

Lucas Duda hit a three-run homer, and Eric Campbell also connected against Jeff Samardzija (3-3).

Zack Wheeler (9-8) allowed two earned runs while working 5 2-3 solid innings. Wheeler is 6-0 with a 2.12 ERA over his nine outings since June 30. The A's chased him after two innings in the shortest start of his career on June 25.

The right-hander and former San Francisco Giants top prospect improved to 4-1 in his last 10 road starts.

Jeurys Familia relieved Vic Black with the bases loaded and one out in the eighth and walked in a run but avoided further damage. He finished for his fourth save.

Campbell and Duda homered during a five-run third against Samardzija (3-3).

Samardzija had been unbeaten in five previous starts at the Coliseum. Instead, he was done after 3 2-3 innings.

"Usually your team gets you five runs it ends in a victory," Samardzija said. "A big game today and I didn't do my part. It stings."

The A's closed to 5-2 in the third on consecutive RBI doubles by Coco Crisp and John Jaso. New York added on in the fourth with RBI singles from Curtis Granderson and Daniel Murphy.

Samardzija cruised through a 10-pitch first inning and got through the second unscathed. Acquired in a July 4 trade from the Cubs, he has never beaten the Mets in nine appearances and three starts.

"It's just having trouble putting guys away," Samardzija said. "Probably as simple as that."

Oakland lost for the eighth time in 10 games. The A's returned home from a 1-6 road trip through Kansas City and Atlanta in which they lost their last five.

Murphy's two-run fielding error aided the A's in the fourth. He nearly had the ball, but it skipped off his glove and then he inadvertently kicked it.

PLAN FOR COLON: Bartolo Colon will rejoin the Mets this weekend in Los Angeles and pitch Sunday before returning to the Dominican Republic for his mother's funeral. The right-hander was placed on the bereavement list on Tuesday.

ICE BUCKET CHALLENGE: OF Jonny Gomes, A's team president Michael Crowley and other club officials participated in the ice bucket challenge for ALS after the game.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Mets: OF Kirk Nieuwenhuis was a late scratch, apparently his stiff neck still an issue.

Athletics: INF Nick Punto, sidelined with a strained right hamstring, is in the beginning stages of running. "It's feeling good. The strength is getting back in there," Punto said. ... 3B Josh Donaldson had much of the day off because "he's a little bit tired right now," manager Bob Melvin said. Donaldson entered as a pinch-hitter in the seventh and had a leadoff single.

UP NEXT

Mets: New York continues its five-game California road trip with the opener of a three-game series Friday against the Dodgers, sending LHP Jonathon Niese (7-8, 3.50 ERA) to the mound looking to improve to 3-0 in six career starts against Los Angeles.

Athletics: The A's have their second off-day in a four-day stretch before opening the series with the Angels. The schedule allowed Melvin to tweak his rotation and use three top starters: Sonny Gray, Jon Lester and Scott Kazmir. Gray is 0-4 in August after his 6-0 July that earned him AL Pitcher of the Month.

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