Hamstring injury halts Parker's momentum
Jarrod Parker was forced to leave the game in the fourth inning with a tight right hamstring. (USA TODAY IMAGES)
OAKLAND -- The A's have swept five of their last six home series, but they won't get that chance against the Cardinals, as St. Louis capitalized on Jarrod Parker's early departure and served Oakland a 7-1, series-evening loss on a hot Saturday afternoon at the Coliseum.
First baseman Matt Adams led the Cardinals' assault on the A's bullpen with a pair of home runs and four RBI. And Adam Wainwright tossed a complete game, scattering five hits and eight strikeouts for his 11th win of the season.
It was only the A's third loss in their last 18 games at the Coliseum.
Starting pitcher report
After a slow start to the season, Jarrod Parker found a groove over his last six starts, and it continued Saturday afternoon … until his 48th pitch.
Parker gave up a double to Allen Craig -- the cleanup hitter's first hit in the series -- and afterward crumpled to the mound, grasping his right hamstring. He left the game after a few warm-up pitches with what the team is calling right hamstring tightness.
After taking a cue from Bartolo Colon before him and starting the game with a pair of perfect and efficient frames, Parker finished with 3 2/3 innings pitched, two hits and three strikeouts.
The A's bullpen did not seem prepared to take over for Parker so early, which is understandable considering the starter has thrown upwards of 90 pitches in each of his last eight starts.
Jesse Chavez got the surprise call in the fourth inning when Parker went down. He stranded his lone inherited runner that inning, but got himself into trouble after that.
Chavez dug himself a hole to lead off the fifth, putting the Cardinals' sixth and seventh hitters on base via a walk and hit batsman. It resulted in two St. Louis runs on one hit, as Matt Carpenter's line drive to left field brought home the second run following successful sacrifices from Jon Jay and Daniel Descalso.
The sixth inning was even worse. After Carlos Beltran and Allen Craig went double, single to lead off -- sending Chavez to the showers -- Jerry Blevins took over with runners at the corners and no outs.
Matt Holliday welcomed him to the game with a scorched, RBI single to center field, and Matt Adams followed with a three-run home run on the next pitch that made it 6-0 St. Louis.
Pat Neshek entered in the seventh, and the A's could have used him earlier. Neshek cut through the heart of the Cardinals order, retiring Yadier Molina before striking out Carlos Beltran and Allen Craig.
Adams tagged Neshek with his second home run of the game and sixth of the season in the eighth inning, pushing the Cardinals lead to seven. And after a double by Jon Jay, Neshek's day was done at 28 pitches.
Dan Otero finished the eighth and handled the ninth without incident.
At the plate
Adam Wainwright spun a gem, going the distance and allowing one run on five hits. He threw 112 pitches and struck out eight.
Wainwright, who had issued a total of 10 free passes in over 116 innings entering Saturday, did issue two base on balls.
Derek Norris provided one of the few rays of offensive light. Receiving his first start at catcher in a week, Norris recorded the A's first and third hits off Wainwright out of the nine spot. He entered the game batting .134 against righties.
The A's scored their only run trailing by seven in the eighth inning when Josh Donaldson doubled to right field and Josh Reddick singled him home. With the late run, the A's avoided their second shutout in June -- the team's seventh consecutive winning month dating back to last June.
Yoenis Cespedes particularly struggled against Wainwright, striking out in each of his first three at-bats. It's the first interleague game this season that Cespedes has not recorded a hit, as his 0-for-4 night snapped a 12-game interleague hitting streak.
Jed Lowrie singled in the fourth inning and has now hit safely in each of the A's 11 interleague games this year.
After turning two double plays in Friday's win, the A's hit into two double plays in Saturday's loss.
In the field
The sun was a factor Saturday, providing a game-time temperature of 84 degrees -- the hottest home game this season. But the A's played clean defense.
After a two-out base hit from Daniel Descalso in the top of the third, Lowrie wrestled with a high pop fly off the bat of Matt Carpenter. In position with his bare hand shielding his eyes, the shortstop appeared to lose sight of the ball, only to adjust at the last second and make a diving/falling catch in shallow left field to end the frame.
Coco Crisp ended the disastrous sixth inning with smooth, sliding catch on a shallow fly ball from Matt Carpenter.
Dan Otero got Carlos Beltran to ground into the 4-6-3, inning-ending double play to close the eighth.
The A's announced a sellout crowd of 35,067, but only 15,000 received the limited edition "Coco Lean" bobblehead. Fans queued up at 9 a.m. and by the time gates opened at 11, lines stretched to the parking lot entrance and circumnavigated Oracle Arena.
The A's and Cardinals wrap their three-game interleague series Sunday afternoon. Left-handed pitcher Tommy Milone (6-7, 4.06 ERA) will be opposed by righty Jake Westbrook (4-2, 2.21 ERA).