The frustration came in generous helpings for the A’s on Saturday, and it went beyond R.A. Dickey’s dancing knuckleball.
Adding some bumbling defensive work to their hitting woes, the A’s fell 5-2 to the Toronto Blue Jays on Saturday afternoon at the Rogers Center. Oakland has now dropped three in a row, tying its longest losing streak of the season, after winning 11 of its previous 12.
Dickey (5-1) limited the A’s to five hits over 8 1/3 innings. Yoenis Cespedes homered in the second to briefly give the A’s the lead, but they didn’t cross home plate again until the ninth, when they threatened with a bases-loaded rally.
The A’s committed two errors to compound matters, with those mistakes contributing directly to two of Toronto’s runs.
The first two of this three-game series has been the story of two teams going in different directions. The Blue Jays are riding a five-game winning streak and have ascended to first place in the American League East.
The A’s still command the top spot in the A.L West, but they’re trying to recapture their mojo after this recent rough stretch.
Starting pitching report
For the third time in four starts, Jesse Chavez (4-2) couldn’t complete six innings. But the right-hander didn’t get much help from his defense. The Blue Jays scored their first run when Craig Gentry misplayed Melky Cabrera’s single to left. Speedy Anthony Gose was running from first on the pitch and wound up coming around to score.
Chavez made a mistake to start the bottom of the fifth, when he caught too much of the plate with an 0-2 breaking ball and Brett Lawrie smacked it for a solo homer and 2-1 Toronto lead. Then with runners on second and third and one out, Melky Cabrera hit a bouncer toward first that only should have scored one. But Brandon Moss couldn’t handle it cleanly, then had trouble picking it up off the ground and couldn’t complete his throw to Jesse Chavez covering first. The E-3 play scored two and gave Toronto a 4-1 lead.
Chavez gave up four runs (two earned) on eight hits over 5 1/3 innings.
Jeff Francis made his A’s debut, throwing a scoreless bottom of the eighth. Fernando Rodriguez handled 1 2/3 innings in relief of Chavez and gave up one run.
At the plate
The A’s made noise in the top of the ninth, down by four. They loaded the bases with one out and forced Jays manager John Gibbons to go to his bullpen twice. But with the bases full, reliever Brett Cecil coaxed Jed Lowrie into a fly out that scored Josh Donaldson to make it 5-2. But with runners on first and second, Alberto Callaspo chased a 3-2 pitch out of the strike zone to end it.
Oakland managed just six hits, giving them 29 over the past five games, an average of 5.8 per game. They’re averaging just 2.4 runs over that five-game period.
Cespedes homered and tripled in his first two at-bats and finished just a double shy of the cycle in his three-hit day.
In the field
Sound defense has been a hallmark of the A’s over the past couple of weeks, but they hurt themselves with their glove work in this one. Moss’ misplay hurt as did Gentry’s, and Eric Sogard -– playing short with Jed Lowrie getting the day off -– could have been charged with an error when Adam Lind’s hard shot got past him in the sixth.
Drew Pomeranz (4-1, 0.94) matches up against J.A. Happ (3-1, 4.37) as the A’s and Jays wrap their series with a 10:07 a.m. game Sunday.