One factor in the A’s recent struggles on offense has been their handling of their best scoring opportunities. Going into Monday, the A’s were hitless in their past 15 plate appearances with the bases loaded.

OAKLAND -- A’s right-hander Jeff Samardzija grinned when asked how he’s feeling in this, the final week of the regular season.

Sometime in the near future, San Francisco Giants broadcaster Duane Kuiper might email team manager Bruce Bochy a photo of one of the two World Series rings the men have in common. It’s Kuiper’s way of reminding Bochy they’ve had some pretty good times.

The A’s are in the unusual situation of facing three straight left-handed starters in their final home series against the Los Angeles Angels. They get C.J. Wilson in tonight’s opener, Wade LeBlanc tomorrow and Hector Santiago on Wednesday.

When watching from the dugout, A’s first baseman Nate Freiman said, there several immediate indicators that can help you assess whether your teammate has just hit a game-winning home run. They include the sound of the ball off the bat, the reaction of the hitter and the response of the outfielder closest to where the ball is headed.

Much criticism of the A’s Yoenis Cespedes-for-Jon Lester trade has been framed around its creating a certain void in the Oakland offense. Cespedes, people argue, was feared. He took pressure off the other A’s hitters simply by being in the lineup, with opposing pitchers always cognizant of his ability to change games with one swing. And in big moments, Cespedes seemed to rise to the occasion, relishing the role of hero.

A’s left-hander Scott Kazmir didn’t sugar coat his postgame comments after his outing five days ago against Texas, when he was the losing pitcher in a sloppy 6-3 defeat.

They were innovative, entertaining pioneers of the local minor-league sports scene. When the Sacramento City Council showed zero interest in housing a ballpark, the late Art Savage crossed the river, promised to bring home a Triple-A franchise and formed a wildly successful partnership with West Sacramento business leaders, citizens and politicians.

Watching Freddy Galvis’ drive to right-center field carry over the high green Coliseum wall and out of sight, A’s reliever Dan Otero sank into a crouch. Two batters earlier, Otero had broken Cody Asche’s bat, only to see the Philadelphia Phillies’ third baseman fight the pitch into left field for a soft double in the seventh.

OAKLAND -- Sure, Jerome Williams had pitched well the last time he faced the A’s, throwing six innings and allowing one run in a start against Oakland in July.

OAKLAND -- Stephen Vogt this morning was announced as recipient of the A’s annual Catfish Hunter Award. According to the team’s release, the award "honors an A’s player whose play on the field and conduct in the clubhouse best exemplifies the courageous, competitive and inspiration spirit demonstrated by (Hunter)."

OAKLAND -- Sean Doolittle had to wait one night more than he wanted to for a chance to bounce back from his nightmarish outing Wednesday -- when the A’s closer gave up five ninth-inning runs in a blown save against Texas -- and when it came Friday he was prepared.

The A’s hit two balls in the first inning Friday night that easily could have been hits and came away with nothing. Sam Fuld yanked a line drive that was caught on a leap by Philadelphia Phillies first baseman Darin Ruf, and Josh Donaldson pulled a sharp grounder down the third-base line that Maikel Franco took on a backhand, throwing from behind the bag to beat Donaldson by a step at first.

OAKLAND -- A reeling A’s team coming off a three-game sweep at the hands of the last-place Texas Rangers gets a potential shot in the arm tonight with the return of Stephen Vogt to the lineup.

Skeptical members of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals questioned the soundness of Barry Bonds' obstruction of justice conviction for a rambling response to a grand jury in 2003 and left open the possibility they may throw out the verdict.

In the end, it worked out exactly as the Savage family wanted: The River Cats, their family business and Sacramento’s Triple-A baseball team, will be affiliated with the San Francisco Giants – ending a 15-year partnership with the Oakland A’s.

After 15 seasons as the Triple-A affiliate of the Oakland A’s, the Sacramento River Cats reached a deal Thursday to change their affiliation to the San Francisco Giants next year, citing the Giants’ popularity among area baseball fans as a key motivation.

After 15 seasons, the River Cats have changed their major-league affiliation from the Oakland Athletics to the San Francisco Giants. Will that shift make a difference to you?

Barry Bonds may yet overturn his obstruction of justice conviction.

Nearly 11 years after Barry Bonds testified before a grand jury investigating the illegal distribution of performance-enhancing drugs, a group of judges will hear arguments Thursday on whether baseball's career home-run leader should have his obstruction of justice conviction thrown out.

The River Cats, Triple-A affiliate of the A’s since moving to West Sacramento in 2000, are expected to seek an affiliation change after filing last week for permission to talk with other major-league teams.

It is rare enough for the Giants to score a run off Clayton Kershaw at AT&T Park, much less mount a rally, but the latter occurred twice Sunday. They laced together two hits and a walk in the third inning and three singles in the seventh, with each resulting in a run and feeling like a victory unto itself against the Dodgers left-hander, who in his first 10 career starts in San Francisco had allowed a total of six earned runs.

Though the result was familiar, a 4-2 Dodgers win over the Giants at AT&T Park, this one didn’t feel like your typical Clayton Kershaw dominance. Rather, the Giants had chances. They scratched out seven hits off Kershaw. They pieced together rallies in two innings. They made him work.

There was an unusual moment in the Giants’ 17-0 loss to the Dodgers last night when Carl Crawford hit a slow grounder with the bases loaded and two outs in the sixth inning, hustled down the line and was called out at first base on a bang-bang play.

SAN FRANCISCO -- Who knows how many times Giants manager Bruce Bochy had pictured what it would be like to summon his son, Brett, from the bullpen into a major-league game, what he might say or what the situation might be, and when it finally came in a historic moment Saturday night, Bruce handed the ball to Brett with these words:

Yasiel Puig lined Tim Hudson’s first pitch softly into center field and, as he rounded first base, did not stop running. Rather, Puig put his head down and sprinted for second, diving headfirst into the bag just ahead of the throw from a surprised Angel Pagan, and as he got to his feet clapped emphatically toward the Dodgers’ dugout.

Walt Brown (Lincoln) grew up a fan of the semi-pro Lincoln Potters, listened to Sacramento Solons play-by-play man Tony Koester and called Tony Freitas his favorite player. As a high school senior in 1953, his goal was to become the voice of the Solons.

SAN FRANCISCO - Madison Bumgarner is the anchor. He is to the San Francisco Giants what Clayton Kershaw is to the Dodgers.

SAN FRANCISCO -- For the Giants to pull even with the Dodgers atop the N.L. West tonight and match their longest home winning streak since moving to AT&T Park in 2000, they’ll have to accomplish a first tonight: Win a game started by Zack Greinke.

SAN FRANCISCO -- The last time he took the mound, in Detroit on Sept. 6, Madison Bumgarner threw six innings and did not record a strikeout for the first time in his big-league career. Friday night against the Dodgers, he set the San Francisco-era record for the most strikeouts by a left-hander in a single season.

Perhaps recalling the last time the Dodgers visited AT&T Park, Giants manager Bruce Bochy made an early move Friday night, indicating he expected runs to be at a premium. Three batters into the first inning, Bochy challenged a call on which Yasiel Puig dived back into second base following a lineout – a close play, but with no conclusive angle showing Joaquin Arias’ throw had beaten Puig – and he lost.

SAN FRANCISCO -- Asked if this weekend’s Giants-Dodgers series is one of the bigger meetings between the stories rivals in recent seasons, Giants manager Bruce Bochy said with a grin: "No, because we play again -- we’ll be talking about this again in a week."

The Giants do little for the new wave of stat geeks controlling the narrative of the game. Giants general manager Brian Sabean is not sexy like A’s boss Billy Beane. Baseball America does not wax poetic about Giants prospects. The Giants got crushed at the All-Star break for doing “nothing” in the way of trades, while the A’s drew raves for executing big deals geared toward glory.

The last time the Dodgers were at AT&T Park, they handed the Giants a three-game sweep in which the home team managed a total of four runs. It was, however, a Giants team that was reeling and a lineup in flux at the top.

SAN FRANCISCO -- Jake Peavy admitted he had glanced ahead at the way the Giants’ rotation was lining up for this weekend’s showdown with the Los Angeles Dodgers and noted he would miss pitching in the series -- by a day.

Their chances of winning the AL West have pretty much slipped away. Now, the Oakland Athletics need to score some runs before they lose a playoff spot altogether.

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Los Angeles Dodgers set their rotation coming out of the All-Star Break to ensure their top three starters would face the Giants in their first series of the second half, a decision that looked like a good one after the Dodgers swept a three-game set at AT&T Park.

After departing the Giants’ 5-0 win over the Diamondbacks on Wednesday night, starter Ryan Vogelsong said he returned to the clubhouse, where he found fellow right-hander Tim Hudson, and remarked to Hudson: "Man, this game will just drive you nuts."

The Giants held an early field work session for their September call-ups before Wednesday night’s game against the Arizona Diamondbacks, and had the team’s second-base situation been a little more stable earlier this summer, Joe Panik might have been among them. Fortunately for the Giants, it was anything but.

The Giants and A’s have been going in opposite directions – the Giants have won 10 of their last 13; the A’s have lost 19 of their past 28 – and it’s looking more likely if they both make the playoffs it will be as wild-card teams.

SAN FRANCISCO -- Giants first baseman Brandon Belt flew to Pittsburgh today for a Thursday appointment with concussion specialist Dr. Michael Collins, with hopes that when he returns it’ll be with the all-clear to face live pitching for the first time in more than a month.

Yusmeiro Petit is making the Giants' decision to start him instead of two-time Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum down the stretch look wise.

Josh Donaldson checked out the video and figured out the problem. The quick fix led to a big night.

The Vermont Lake Monsters and Oakland Athletics are extending their player-development contract by two years.

The loss of closer Sean Doolittle to a strained intercostal muscle Aug. 24 appeared costly at the time, but was a little-discussed topic in the ensuing two weeks. Largely because of the A’s 4-9 record during that stretch, entering Sunday they had faced only one save situation in Doolittle's absence, which Eric O’Flaherty secured Aug. 27 in Houston.

OAKLAND -- Ryan Cook motioned reporters to his locker, waited for them to gather and didn’t mince words answering for his ninth-inning letdown in the A’s 4-3 loss Sunday.

Right-hander Jason Hammel has had two of his best outings with the A’s in his two most recent starts, allowing one run on three hits in seven innings in Houston on Aug. 26 and one run on three hits against the Mariners last Monday. Whether or not by coincidence, those were the two starts in which Hammel was paired with new catcher Geovany Soto.

It’s a scene that has played out often at Coliseum in recent years, including eight previous times this season, but as the A’s rushed to mob Jed Lowrie near second base following his game-winning single Saturday, the celebration seemed a little more exuberant, the crowd’s reaction a little louder, the situation a little more urgent.

Professional baseball has a long, storied and checkered history in Sacramento.

Perhaps the most family friendly business in Sacramento, the River Cats, has been getting pounded on social media all week.

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