Josh Willingham homered Monday and was hitting .333 over his past nine games, which qualifies him as red-hot for the A's.

He wasn't in the Oakland lineup for Tuesday's series opener, however. Manager Bob Geren said he wanted to get Ryan Sweeney into a game, so Sweeney was in left field, rather than Willingham.

In addition, Geren said, he didn't want Willingham to play too many games in a row after missing two games last week with a twinge in his back. Willingham started all four games of the series against Texas.

Andy LaRoche made his third start in a row at third base. Kevin Kouzmanoff, who is off to a poor start at the plate and in the field, has been on the bench.

LaRoche was 7 for his past 12 entering the game. He went 0-for-3, dropping his average to .318. Kouzmanoff is batting .208 and made six errors the first month of the season.