D-Backs Throw Ace

The Arizona Diamondbacks acquired Dan Haren from Oakland this past offseason to complement Brandon Webb in their rotation. With pitchers such as Justin Duchscherer, the Athletics' staff has more than compensated for Haren's departure.

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The NL West-leading Diamondbacks will throw their top two pitchers at the Athletics, beginning with Webb on Tuesday when the teams begin a three-game interleague series.

Oddsmakers from Sportsbook.com have made Arizona -135 money line favorites (MLB Odds) for tonight's game, the over/under has been set at 7.5 total runs (Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 83% of bets for this game have been placed on Arizona -135 (View MLB Bet Percentages).

Arizona (37-33) bolstered its pitching by picking up Haren in a trade with Oakland last December, giving it one of the majors' top sets of No. 1 and 2 starters. Haren will face the A's on Wednesday night.

He joined a Diamondbacks staff already anchored by Webb (11-2, 2.73 ERA), who leads the league in wins. The right-hander had won consecutive starts before Wednesday, when he gave up three runs and five hits in five innings as Arizona lost 5-3 to the New York Mets.

Webb pitched a complete game in his only appearance against the A's, a four-hitter with seven strikeouts as Arizona won 3-1 on July 2, 2006. He is 5-9 with a 3.22 ERA in 17 interleague starts.

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Webb will be facing an Oakland team that has won three straight and nine of 13. The A's have been a surprise contender in the AL West despite dumping Haren and outfielders Nick Swisher and Mark Kotsay in the offseason.

Oakland has been led by one of baseball's top pitching staffs, boasting a 3.34 ERA that barely trails the major league-leading Chicago White Sox (3.33).

"It's pitching, definitely, for us," A's third baseman Eric Chavez said. "When you get such good pitching performances it gives you a leg up. The numbers dictate that it's been pitching."

Even with Haren, the A's finished 13th last season with a 4.28 ERA.

Duchscherer (6-4, 2.20 ERA), who has helped solidify Oakland's rotation, will take the mound in this series' opener. He has given up two runs or less in eight of his 10 starts.

The right-hander has won back-to-back outings, posting a 1.98 ERA while limiting opponents to a .178 batting average. He gave up one run and five hits in seven innings as Oakland beat the New York Yankees 8-4 on Wednesday.

Duchscherer is 2-2 with a 5.34 ERA in one start and 18 relief appearances in interleague play. He pitched an inning of relief versus the Diamondbacks on July 1, 2006, giving up one run and two hits in a 7-2 A's loss.

Duchscherer has gotten 12 runs of support in his last two starts. Oakland has improved at the plate since Chavez came off the disabled list late last month.

Chavez had three hits and two RBIs to help Oakland complete a sweep of San Francisco, beating the Giants 5-3 on Sunday. He is batting .291 with one home run, four doubles and eight RBIs in 14 games.

Arizona's lineup, meanwhile, has been struggling. The Diamondbacks scored three runs or less in each of their three games against Kansas City over the weekend, losing two.

Despite an 8-3 loss on Sunday, the Diamondbacks remained 5 1/2 games ahead of the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NL West.

"It's a silver lining, but we have to take care of our own business," Arizona manager Bob Melvin said. "The fact that our division isn't playing great is nice at this point, but you can't concentrate on that. You can't continue to hope that other teams struggle so you have a chance. Ultimately, we're going to have to play better."

Arizona has split its six interleague games, while Oakland has gone 4-2. The A's are 9-6 all-time against the Diamondbacks.

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