Melvin: 'We just had a tough time figuring out Garza'
Matt Garza's final stat line: 8 IP, ER, 4 H, 3 BB, 5 K, WIN. (USA TODAY IMAGES)
OAKLAND -- The O.Co Coliseum's eighth sellout of the season watched the A's take a 3-1 loss at the hands of Matt Garza and the Cubs on an irregular night in Oakland. Chicago's series-evening win sets up a Fourth of July rubber match on Thursday.
Things didn't go like they normally do for the A's, who lost at home for just the fourth time in their last 21 games. Bartolo Colon threw his first wild pitch in over four years. He suffered his first loss since May 9, and his first loss in a night game since July 17 of last year. Brandon Moss hit his 15th home run, but for only the second time this season, the A's failed to win with Moss going deep.
Starting pitcher report
It's a brand new month for Bartolo Colon. And the American League's reigning Pitcher of the Month didn't start July the way he'd hoped.
Colon's streak of eight consecutive wins was snapped, as he gave up a season high-tying nine hits to the Cubs. He had previously been 7-0 with a 2.11 ERA in night games, boasting the AL's best such ERA split.
He entered Wednesday leading the AL in efficiency with an average of 13.7 pitches per inning, but he needed 18 pitches to dispatch the Cubs in the first, one of which made it past catcher John Jaso for Colon's first wild pitch since 2009. It ended a streak of 443 innings without a wild pitch for Colon, and it put Starlin Castro in position to score, which he did on Alfonso Soriano's base hit.
Colon looked to be settling in with a 12-pitch second inning, but in the third, leadoff hitter Luis Valbuena hit just the second home run off Colon since May 14, barely depositing it past the outstretched glove of right fielder Josh Reddick for a 2-0 Cubs lead.
Still, the 16-year veteran who eclipsed 2,500 career innings pitched with his first out of the game, kept his team in it until departing.
Colon's night appeared to be over in the seventh when, after issuing his first walk, Bob Melvin emerged from the dugout. But the A's manager did not immediately ask for the ball. After a brief meeting on the mound, he returned to the dugout and left Colon to deal with three-hitter Nate Schierholrtz with runners on the corners and two outs. Colon did, inducing the inning-ending fly ball to keep it a one-run game.
Colon's final line: 7 IP, 9 H, 2 ER, BB, HR, 106 P, L.
Meanwhile in Canada, the Tigers' Max Scherzer beat the Blue Jays to become the first pitcher to start a season 13-0 since 1986. He appears the frontrunner to start the All-Star Game for the American League July 16 in New York.
Sean Doolittle entered to pitch the eighth inning, having allowed one run over his past nine games. But back-to-back doubles from Dioner Navarro and Brian Bogusevic gave the Cubs a critical insurance run.
Jesse Chavez pitched the top of the ninth and allowed a single.
At the plate
Josh Donaldson is scorching hot at the plate, but when the A's needed him most -- down by one with the crowd getting loud and two on, two out in the sixth -- he flew out to right-center field. Donaldson entered the game batting .388 with 13 RBI in his last 14 games and finished 0-for-3 with a walk and two strikeouts, both looking.
The A's looked overmatched against Matt Garza until the fourth inning, when Brandon Moss sent his 1-0 hanging curveball over the right-field wall. Fifteen of Moss' last 22 hits are for extra bases.
Whenever the sold out crowd began to get involved, Garza made the pitch to keep them at bay. They started the get loud in the sixth inning, but Moss struck out and Donaldson's aforementioned pop out once again silenced the crowd. They started to get loud in the eighth inning, but three quick outs ended that.
The A's put one runner on in the ninth against Kevin Gregg, but John Jaso was stranded after stealing second base.
While the A's have managed to score enough runs recently, they've done it despite clean-up hitter Yoenis Cespedes, whose struggles at the plate continued Wednesday. The A's left fielder is is 9-for-55 (.164) with 21 strikeouts in his last 14 games.
In the field
The A's played a "clean" game behind Bartolo Colon, committing no errors, but there were multiple plays that could have been made -- two of which led to runs.
Jaso, who hadn't started since June 20, had a chance to block Colon's first-inning slider in the dirt. Instead, it caromed toward the backstop and gave Starlin Castro the 90 feet he needed to score later that inning. It also served Colon his first wild pitch as an Athletic.
Right fielder Josh Reddick had a chance to shave a few points off Colon's ERA on Luis Valbuena's drive to right in the third inning, but the Gold Glover came up just short. His well-timed jump appeared to put him in position to bring back the home run, and the Coliseum erupted when he landed, only to see Reddick take off his glove an slam it into the wall in frustration. Replays showed that Reddick got his glove on the ball, but couldn't bring it back.
Yoenis Cespedes had a tough day in left field. He misplayed two balls that each resulted in triples, although neither run scored.
The A's went 4-6-3 to turn their 63rd double play of the season in the second inning, a category in which they are dead last in the American League.
Eric Sogard wasn't charged with an error when he couldn't corral Julio Borbon's line drive in the fifth, but he'll likely tell you he should have had it.
Brandon Moss needed every inch of his first baseman's mitt when he went full extension to his right, robbing Darwin Barney of a leadoff hit in the seventh.
The A's announced a paid attendance of 35,067, their eighth sellout of the season. Postgame fireworks were enjoyed by all.
The A's and Cubs will wrap up their three-game set with a Fourth of July matinee on Thursday. Oakland is expected to call up right-handed pitcher Dan Straily (4-2, 5.00 ERA) from Sacramento to take Jarrod Parker's place in the rotation and oppose Chicago's lefty Travis Wood (5-6, 2.85 ERA).