Three weeks ago, Oregon coach George Horton noted that UCLA was "playing as well as anyone in the country."

The Bruins followed up by tumbling out of first place in the Pac-12 with five losses in their last six conference games as they prepare to host the Ducks in a three-game series beginning Friday.

"That surprised me," Horton said. "They hit a bit of a skid and hopefully one more weekend of skidding until we get out of town. I know we will have our hands full because they will be anxious to get going the right way. They are still in contention so a lot of things can happen. It reconfirms that anyone can beat anybody in the conference if you don't play well. Regardless of what they have done the past two weekends, I hope we can play good baseball and get out of there with three wins."

The 17th-ranked Bruins (32-16) are tied for third in the conference with Washington at 15-9, three games back of first-place Stanford. Oregon (25-24) is tied for sixth with Arizona State at 11-13.

"It is nice to think we have something to play for," Horton said. "If we are successful in our last six games we could be 17-13 and the stars would have to align for us to finish third."

Oregon's postseason hopes are likely gone at No. 90 in RPI, but a sweep of the Bruins followed by three wins over Arizona to wrap up the regular season could at least force the selection committee to discuss the Ducks.

"Going into the last six games of conference play, at least we are giving ourselves a chance," Oregon senior second baseman Kyle Kasser said. "You never know with the playoff situation."

Horton and his staff left for Los Angeles on Wednesday to recruit the area that has turned out many Ducks, including Kasser.

"One last time to get to play in Southern California in front of friends and family so that will be fun," he said. "We get to play a really good club and see what we are made of down there."

Oregon won all three games against Utah last weekend for its first conference sweep in more than two years.

"When you play a team below you in the Pac-12, you want to bury them and we did that," Oregon outfielder Jakob Goldfarb said. "Obviously, UCLA is having a good year with good pitching so it will be a challenge for us, but we go into the next two series to try and come out with some wins."

UCLA ranks second in the Pac-12 with a 3.08 ERA led by Friday starter Jake Bird, who tops the conference at 2.05 while going 6-3. Sunday starter Ryan Garcia is 5-1 while ranking sixth in the conference with a 2.68 ERA.

Oregon is last in the conference in batting at .241 after hitting .306 and scoring 23 runs in three wins over Utah.

"Our bats have been a weak point for us all year," said Goldfarb, who leads UO in hitting at .320 with a team-high six homers. "Pitching has been carrying us for a while as we couldn't even get wins when we would hold a team to two or three runs. I think scoring runs against Utah and getting three wins gives us confidence in our bats going into UCLA."

Oregon will keep its regular pitching rotation with Kenyon Yovan (5-3, 2.55) facing off against Bird on Friday followed by Matt Mercer (5-5, 3.42) and Kolby Somers (2-6, 4.12) on Saturday and Sunday, respectively.

"In baseball, confidence is only as good as your next starting pitcher and the good news is we have a guy named Yovan who might be able to carry that confidence and maybe we can win our fourth in a row," Horton said.