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Phillies, A's testing young players

PHILADELPHIA -- As the Philadelphia Phillies and Oakland Athletics' respective seasons wind down without any hope of a playoff berth this season, the two franchises are still finding plenty to play for.

With both sending out lineups full of young talent, there's a lot of players on both sides who are trying to prove they belong in the major leagues as their front offices try to determine what moves they'll need to make in the offseason.

The Athletics (65-82) took the first of a three-game interleague series on Friday night 4-0 thanks to a complete-game shutout by 24-year-old Daniel Mengden and a pair of two-run home runs, including one by the A's rookie Matt Olson.

"We're trying to create some momentum going forward, and we feel like we have a good group of younger guys that has the ability," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "We feel like we're on our way again with some of these younger guys. They need some experience, they're getting it right now, and hopefully the experience works well for everybody going into next season."

Olson, who spent some time with the A's in April and June-July around minor league stints, has settled in nicely since becoming a full-time big-leaguer in August. Playing in nearly every game since Aug. 9, he is batting .284 (31-for-109) with 15 homers and 29 RBI during that span.

Like many on both teams, he is trying to prove that he belongs at the highest level of baseball for the remainder of his career.

Making his own case to belong in his team's rotation next year is the Phillies' Saturday starter, rookie right-hander Ben Lively.

Lively, who is 3-6 with a 3.86 ERA over his first dozen major league starts, has only given up more than four earned runs in an outing once thus far. He has been particularly effective in his last three outings, giving up six earned runs in 21 innings (2.57 ERA) while compiling 16 strikeouts during that time.

In his last outing, Lively was strong for eight innings against the NL East champion Washington Nationals, though two home runs cost him in a 3-2 loss. He threw the team's first complete game of the season -- even though it wasn't of the nine-inning variety -- but was out-dueled by Nationals ace Stephen Strasburg.

"I'd rather get my teeth kicked in than lose a game like that," Lively told the Philadelphia Inquirer. "It's just baseball."

This will be Lively's first career outing against the A's. He has faced one AL team so far this season, giving up eight hits and three runs (all earned) against the Boston Red Sox in his third career start back on June 13.

Lively will match up with A's right-hander Kendall Graveman, who is trying to reverse some bad road results this season.

In seven starts away from the Oakland Coliseum this season, Graveman is 1-4 with a 6.75 ERA. Overall this year, he is 5-4 with a 4.48 ERA.

Graveman's last time out was a positive one, as he held Houston to one run on five hits in six innings to earn his fifth victory of the year in his 16th start.

"It was one of his better outings for us," Melvin told the San Jose Mercury News. "Really, the only run Kendall allowed was on a ground ball."

This will be Graveman's first career outing against the Phillies (57-90).

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