Oregon will try to hang on to a piece of first place in the Pac-12 Conference when it visits Stanford for a three-game series beginning today.

The No. 11-ranked Ducks are 18-6 after splitting a pair of mid-week games at San Francisco, but they have won five straight Pac-12 games to move into a tie for first place with Washington and UCLA at 5-1. Oregon State is fourth at 4-2.

The format of the series has been changed to accommodate the chance of weekend rain. The teams will play a doubleheader starting at 3 p.m. today, and the final game of the series is scheduled for 2 p.m. Saturday.

The Ducks opened the conference schedule by taking two out of three games at home against USC, which took two of three games at Stanford last week in the opening weekend of Pac-12 play for the Cardinal.

Stanford is 8-10 overall against arguably the toughest schedule in the nation.

Stanford lost two out of three games at home against 10th-ranked Rice to open the season, lost two out of three games at No. 12 Texas and was swept at seventh-ranked Vanderbilt.

The Cardinal have a couple of hard-luck pitchers including ace Brett Hanewich, who has allowed four earned runs in 24?2/3 innings in five starts, but is 0-1 with his 1.46 ERA. Saturday starter Chris Viall is 1-1 with a 3.00 ERA, and Cal Quantrill, the second-game starter, is 3-2 with a 3.60 ERA.

The Ducks' starters have been even better. Ace Tommy Thorpe, who will start today's first game, has the highest ERA at 2.23. Matt Krook, who will start today's second game, has a 2.00 ERA and Jeff Gold is 6-0 with a 2.04 ERA.

The Ducks are batting .272 as a team, led by Tyler Baumgartner at .358. Aaron Payne is at .314. J.B. Bryant was 3-for-4 with three RBIs and two runs in Wednesday's victory over San Francisco to improve to .364 in limited action.

Third baseman Alex Biandino is batting .349, and center fielder Austin Slater is hitting .339 to lead the Cardinal, who are hitting .259 as a team.

Follow Steve on Twitter @SteveMims_RG . Email steve.mims@registerguard.com .

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