Pirates-A's preview

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Left-hander Rich Hill will try to pick up where he left off when he makes his first start for the Oakland A's in more than a month Saturday night against the Pittsburgh Pirates at the Oakland Coliseum.

Hill is 8-3 with a 2.25 ERA and has a five-game winning streak, but he hasn't started since May 29 against the Detroit Tigers, when he sustained a groin injury that sent him to the disabled list.

Despite his long layoff, Hill said his game plan won't change.

"I think just the same thing I was doing before, which was staying in the moment," Hill said Friday before the A's fell 7-3 to the Pirates in the opener of a three-game series. "That's really the biggest thing is focusing in on the task at hand, and that doesn't change at any stage of the game. That's what I did in my rehab outing, that's what I've done in my bullpens. I think for me that's the most beneficial way to go about my business."

Hill went 2-1 with a 1.55 ERA in four September starts for the Boston Red Sox last year -- his first major league starts since 2009 -- and he parlayed that performance into a one-year, $6 million contract with the A's and a spot in their rotation.

Hill has gone 7-1 with a 1.76 ERA over his past eight starts, relying heavily on a nasty curveball.

"I think it's always been something I've been able to throw," Hill said. "I've had it my whole life. To be able to have that in conjunction with my fastball has been great. They've been working well this year."

Hill threw 66 pitches for Class A Stockton in his lone rehab start, and he likely will be on a pitch count Saturday.

"It will be a little more mindful than just sending him out there on a regular start," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "You're probably not going to see him throw 110 pitches."

The Pirates will send rookie right-hander Chad Kuhl to the mound for his second career major league start. Kuhl made his debut Sunday against the Los Angeles Dodgers and left-hander Clayton Kershaw at PNC Park and got the win in a 4-3 victory. He allowed three runs on four hits over five innings.

"Just a lot of excitement, a lot of emotion," Kuhl said of his debut. "I had a bunch of family there. It was just a really special time and experience.

"I tried to get out there a little extra early. I got out there, took it in. I stretched earlier, I threw earlier. I allowed myself time to walk in from the bullpen, look around. Even before first pitch, just really take it in and get acclimated. And when it was time to play, just went after it."

Kuhl, 23, said he expects to be more relaxed as he progresses.

"When I went out for my second inning, I thought to myself, 'All right, it's not your first time anymore,'" Kuhl said. "So the second inning obviously went a lot smoother than my first inning. It definitely helps."

The Pirates drafted Kuhl in the ninth round in 2013, and he made a quick trip to the major leagues. Last year, he went 11-5 with a 2.48 ERA for Double-A Altoona. This year, he was 6-2 with a 2.58 ERA for Triple-A Indianapolis, earning a promotion.

Starting his major league career with a victory against Kershaw and the Dodgers was "very sweet," Kuhl said.

"You get called up, that's the one thing on your mind, you want to get up here, you want to help win ballgames. That's why I'm here."

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