OAKLAND -- Despite his World Series rings, his no-hitter and his three All-Star appearances, it’s a lot to ask Jon Lester to be flawless.
The A’s ace-for-hire needed to be Wednesday afternoon going up against Seattle’s Felix Hernandez. In a battle of two of the major leagues’ most dominant starting pitchers, events played out as you might have expected on a picturesque afternoon at the Coliseum.
Runs were scarce, and the A’s simply had no answer for Hernandez in a 2-1 loss that allowed Seattle to capture this three-game series. Oakland mustered just three hits in eight innings against its longtime nemesis, as Hernandez moved to 19-7 against the A’s and lowered his ERA to 2.58 against them in 34 career starts.
Lester was quite good as well, but back-to-back homers from Kyle Seager and Corey Hart in the top fo the seventh erased a 1-0 A’s lead, which came courtesy of Adam Dunn’s homer.
With that, the A’s have lost their past two series against American League West contenders. The Angels swept them in four games to command a sizable division lead, and the Mariners took two out of three to pull even closer in the wild card race.
The A’s also suffered an injury loss, as first baseman Stephen Vogt left after six innings with a sprained left ankle.
Starting pitching report
Lester went eight innings, scattered seven hits and struck out five without a walk. It was the type of outing the A’s needed from the man they acquired from Boston at the trade deadline. But the back-to-back shots in the seventh provided a quick turnaround in this one.
Seager went deep on a 3-1 fastball to lead off the seventh. Two pitches later, Hart connected on an 0-1 fastball to turn a 1-0 A’s lead into a 2-1 deficit.
Luke Gregerson turned in a scoreless top of the ninth.
At the plate
Dunn provided the lone highlight, blasting a 3-2 pitch from Hernandez deep over the right field wall for his second homer in as many starts since joining the A’s. But that was it for Oakland, as Hernandez kept them guessing all day and gave up little in the way of hard contact.
The right-hander only struck out four, but as he’s expanded his repertoire over the years, he can dominate without being overpowering.
Dunn came up with two outs and a chance to tie the game in the ninth off Marienrs closer Fernando Rodney, but he struck out on three pitches.
In the field
Brandon Moss is still struggling to find his power stroke, but he turned in a big play in left field in the fourth. Seager blooped a double that Moss made a diving attempt on but couldn’t catch. He scrambled to his feet, ran the ball down and fired to third to nail Seager, who tried his stretching his double into a triple.
Shortstop Jed Lowrie committed a first-inning throwing error that pulled Vogt off the bag at first. Lowrie was drifting to his right and threw off-balance. He didn’t get much on the throw, and it’s possible that injured right index finger was a factor. Lowrie has admitted the finger still isn’t 100 percent, but that it’s good enough for him to play. His other throws appeared strong throughout the afternoon.
The announced turnout was 17,073.
After a day off, the A’s host the Houston Astros for one final three-game series beginning Friday. The Astros have yet to announce any of their starters for the weekend. The A’s will throw Jeff Samardzija (4-4, 3.57) in Friday’s 7:05 p.m. opener. Scott Kazmir (14-7, 3.39) goes in Saturday’s 1:05 p.m. game and Jason Hammel (2-5, 4.98) takes the ball Sunday at 1:05 p.m. All three games will air on Comcast SportsNet California.