OAKLAND -– Just when the A’s had snatched the momentum Wednesday night, things once again took a wrong-way turn for their bullpen.
The Los Angeles Angels struck for three runs in the seventh inning to snap a tie game and went on to hang a 6-3 defeat on Oakland to even this three-game series at the Coliseum.
The visitors did the damage against three A’s relievers, right after Oakland scored twice in the sixth to knot the score 3-3. Manager Bob Melvin has been trying to find the right late-inning combination with his relief corps, but Wednesday marked the seventh loss the bullpen has been saddled with, most in the majors. A’s relievers have allowed two runs or more in eight of the last 13 games.
The top of the seventh began ominously for Oakland, as Ryan Cook took the mound and walked Matt Joyce on four pitches. Johnny Giavotella would go on to deliver a go-ahead single and Mike Trout would deliver a two-run double off Evan Scribner.
The loss dropped the A’s to 9-13 and 5 ½ games behind the first-place Houston Astros, who have won six in a row.
Starting pitching report
Having been skipped his last time through the rotation because of a blister, Jesse Hahn wasn’t going to be allowed to rack up 100-plus pitches. A 26-pitch first inning helped ensure he wouldn’t pitch deep in this one. The Angels scored twice in that frame off him, and the right-hander had to feel a bit frustrated. He didn’t get the call on a nice 2-2 curve to Trout and wound up walking Trout to put two runners aboard with no outs. Albert Pujols poked a grounder off the end of his bat that wound up advancing both runners.
Then, after Hahn got ahead in the count against Erick Aybar with two outs, Aybar knocked a two-run single into center. Aybar entered the game with a .339 career average at the Coliseum. Since 2006, that’s the second best opponents’ average in the ballpark after Ichiro Suzuki’s .344 mark.
In the third, Hahn piped a 1-0 fastball that Trout hammered for a home run to left that made it 3-0. The right-hander was lifted after five innings, giving up three runs on four hits. He struck out six and walked one, leaving after 89 pitches.
Credit the Angels for their work at the plate during their three-run rally in the seventh. C.J. Cron poked a textbook hit-and-run single through the right side off Cook to put runners on the corners. After Cook struck out Chris Iannetta for the first out, Giavotella capped a seven-pitch at-bat by singling up the middle to score Joyce and break a 3-3 tie. Fernando Abad was summoned to face Kole Calhoun and walked him on five pitches, then Trout lined his two-run double off Scribner to put the A’s in a 6-3 hole.
At the plate
Marcus Semien, the No. 2 hitter recently, came in hitting .360 over his last six games. He doubled twice and singled in his first three at-bats and played a part in both of the A's scoring rallies. Semien led off the bottom of the fourth with a double and came around to score on Stephen Vogt’s single to left-center. Then he legged out an infield hit to lead off the sixth and scored on Ike Davis’ two-out double. Josh Reddick followed with a game-tying single to center to make it 3-3.
But in the seventh, with Oakland down 6-3 and runners on the corners with one out, Semien popped up and Vogt was retired on a comebacker, and a golden scoring opportunity went by the wayside.
In the field
The Angels committed two errors that wound up not factoring into the final outcome.
A crowd of 16,212 was on hand.
Can the A’s finally break through under the sun? They are 0-7 in day games, the only team in the majors not to have won during the day. They’ll send Jesse Chavez (0-1, 0.71) to the hill in Thursday’s 12:35 p.m. series finale. Garrett Richards (1-1, 3.75) goes for Los Angeles.