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Athletics seek four-game sweep of Yankees

OAKLAND, Calif. -- The Oakland Athletics still are buried in the cellar of the American League West, but they continue to be tough to beat at home.

Just ask the New York Yankees, who Oakland tries to complete a four-game sweep against on Sunday.

The A's beat the Yankees for the third straight time on Saturday getting two home runs from Ryon Healy and one from Matt Joyce in a 5-2 victory.

The A's will go for their second four-game sweep of the Yankees in the last six seasons when they start Jharel Cotton to face Luis Cessa.

"We've been good at home this year and I think we're playing some real good baseball so far this series," said A's left-hander Sean Doolittle, who pitched a scoreless ninth inning for his second save. "We're getting contributions from a lot of different guys, and we're playing really good team baseball.

"You can feel the confidence that the guys are playing with right now and the energy they're playing with right now. Us as a bullpen, we definitely feed off of that for sure."

The Yankees are still 10 games over .500 at 38-28, but they've lost a season-high five straight games and are 1-5 on their seven-game road trip against the Los Angeles Angels and Oakland.

"It's not what you want," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said of the losing streak. "It's frustrating. We'll get it turned around and we'll get hot again. Hopefully we won't have a cold spell where we lose five in a row again, but there's going to be days where we just don't get it done."

Girardi expects to get some help for his bullpen Sunday with the return of left-hander Aroldis Chapman (left shoulder rotator cuff inflammation) from the disabled list.

Catcher Gary Sanchez (strained groin) was out of the starting lineup the past two games, but he pinch hit in the ninth inning Saturday and might return to the lineup Sunday.

The Yankees could get designated hitter Matt Holliday back too. He missed Saturday's game after having an allergic reaction to something he ate for breakfast that morning in the clubhouse.

The A's are 30-38 overall but 21-13 at home. They've won 19 of their past 27 home games and, after clinching a series win against the Yankees on Saturday, are 7-2-2 in home series this year.

Cotton will start against the Yankees for the second time this season and in his career. He had a no-hitter for 5 2/3 innings at Yankee Stadium on May 27 before giving up a two-run homer to Holliday after walking Sanchez.

Cotton gave up three runs on two hits over 5 2/3 innings and took the loss in a 3-2 defeat. He struck out five but walked three and struggled with his command.

"A little bit of the way he's been going here recently," A's manager Bob Melvin said of Cotton's first start against New York. "He'll have maybe an inning of a bad stretch or maybe some command issues during the course of the game and then finds it and pitches deeper in the game. That's all part of being a young pitcher and understanding and knowing what your stuff is and what you need to lean on at certain times.

"He really got off to a really poor start in that game and ends up getting to the sixth inning, giving up the home run. I think that was an important game for him to know that you don't have to have your best stuff and you don't have to start out great to be able to continue through the game and give your team a chance to win."

Cotton is 3-7 with a 5.52 ERA overall and 0-3 with a 5.24 ERA in four starts since being recalled from Triple-A Nashville for his second stint with the A's this season. Melvin said he's still learning how to handle adversity during games.

"I think for a lot of younger guys that have had a lot of success, it's just something you're not used to," Melvin said. "At the big league level, it's tough. It's the highest level with the best performers, so consistency is the key. He's finding that, he's starting to find that a little bit more so and when he puts a couple games together where he's real consistent, I think you'll see better performances and deeper in games. But at this point at some point he's throwing a few too many pitches early in games."

Cessa, who was recalled Thursday from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, will make his first start of the season for the Yankees, replacing injured left-hander CC Sabathia (Grade 2 left hamstring strain), who's on the disabled list.

Cessa made one relief appearance for the Yankees earlier this season and was 3-6 with a 4.15 ERA in 11 games, including 10 starts, at Triple-A.

"He has the stuff to compete at this level," Girardi said. "He just needs to go out and locate."

Last year Cessa made the Yankees' Opening Day roster and went 4-4 with a 4.35 ERA in 17 games, including nine starts.

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