With the All-Star break still two days away, the A's offense seems to have gone into snooze mode prematurely.
They went down quietly with the bats once again Saturday night at Safeco Field, mustering just five hits in a 6-2 defeat to the Seattle Mariners.
The loss reduced the A's lead to 1 1/2 games over the Los Angeles Angels in the American League West, the smallest cushion they've had since May 29.
Consider it a not-so-perfect storm for Oakland right now. Their leadoff hitter, Coco Crisp, has missed the past three games with an assortment of injuries. One of their biggest boppers, Yoenis Cespedes, is suffering through a miserable July at the plate.
And they arrived in the Emerald City to face the Mariners top two starters, Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma, who were both in top form. Iwakuma (8-4) had an assortment of pitches dancing all over the strike zone in his 8 2/3 innings of work.
Just one A's runner reached as far as second base until the ninth, when Brnadon Moss hit a two-run homer wiuth two outs to avoid the shutout.
Oakland scored twice off Hernandez in the first inning Friday, but then went 16 consecutive innings without crossing home plate.
Starting pitching report
With the A's bats on silent, Jesse Chavez (7-6) needed to be near perfect. He wasn't.
He allowed 10 hits over 5 2/3 innings, including serving up Kyle Seager's two-run homer in the fifth that opened up a 3-0 lead for the Mariners. Seattle scored its first run in the second, though Chavez did well to strand bases loaded and avoid further damage.
The Mariners' first rally started with Corey Hart's double off the left-center wall, a ball that looked like it might be a homer off the bat. Cespedes gave chase like he thought the same thing, slowing up as he hit the warning track, only to have the ball hang in the air a long time and hit about three-quarters of the way up the wall and ricochet past him. It¹s debatable whether the ball could have been caught, but his effort left a little to be desired.
It was a 3-0 game when Robinson Cano turned on a fastball from Jim Johnson in the eighth and launched a three-run homer into the right field seats.
That blast loomed larger than expected after Brandon Moss hit a two-run homer in the top of the ninth.
At the plate
The A's had little answer for Iwakuma, who came within one out of his first career complete game. Cespedes went 0-for-4 and is now 3-for-41 with no extra base hits and one RBI in July.
Moss at least got the A's on the board with his 20th homer in the ninth, which chased Iwakuma.
In the field
Cespedes did come up with a beauty of a play in the eighth, retrieving Endy Chavez's single and throwing a strike to home plate to cut down Willie Bloomquist, who tried scorin from first. It was Cespedes' 11th outfield assist on the season.
39,204 announced attendance.
Sonny Gray (9-3, 2.97) takes the ball Sunday in Oakland's finale before the All-Star break. Chris Young (8-5, 3.08) goes for Seattle, with first pitch at 1:10 p.m.