Parker falters in fifth as rookie can't match Greinke in A's loss

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Parker falters in fifth as rookie can't match Greinke in A's loss

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OAKLAND For four innings, rookie Jarrod Parker tradedzeroes with a former Cy Young Award winner in Zack Greinke.But the fifth inning has spelled doom for Parker in many previous starts, andTuesday was no different. Parker allowed the games first run in the fifth,gave up a second in the sixth, and the As bullpen didnt do him any favors, asthe Angels added four insurance runs to roll to a 6-1 win.Parker gave up his fifth-inning run on three singles and has now allowed 20 ofhis 61 runs in that fateful frame. That means 32.8 of the runs opponents scoreagainst Parker come in the fifth.As manager Bob Melvin said he was unaware of the numbers, but wasnt ready tocall it a trend.I dont see a trend there, Melvin said. Maybe the numbers would suggestthat, but I havent seen anything that would suggest a fifth-inning problem forhim.What about Parker? His explanation:Its just probably the hitters making an adjustment and mebeing a little bit behind and not making a quick enough adjustment.Fifth-inning blemishes aside, Parker put together an impressive outing. Melvinwill take two runs in seven innings, especially from a rookie in September, anyday.He threw the ball well, Melvin said. Weve got to scoresome runs to win the game. But all in all I thought he threw really well.Unfortunately for Melvin, Parker and the As, Greinke threw better. Greinkegave up a solo shot to Brandon Moss, a double to Seth Smith and two duck-snortsingles in his seven innings of work. The As looked lost at the plate the restof the time. Obviously hes got great stuff and you know that when anyof those guys over there go out to the mound, you have to be on your game andbasically go blow for blow, Parker said. And we tried to do that and we did apretty good job of it early.The As struggled against Greinke less than a month aftertagging him for four runs in five innings in his third start as an Angel onAugust 8. They worked five walks off him in the second inning alone. He was adifferent pitcher Tuesday.A lot better than we saw him last time, Melvin said. He had better commandof his fastball, you know, speed you up, slow you down. He just had us offbalance all night. Other than Moss home run, we didnt get too many goodswings.Moss home run to lead off the seventh made the score 2-1and brought some life to the sparse Coliseum crowd, but the As bullpen allowedtwo runs in both the eighth and ninth innings to put the game essentially outof reach.The two eighth-inning runs were charged to Sean Doolittle, who was welcomed tothe game with a sharp line drive off his shin. To add insult to injury, theshin burger ricocheted into the outfield for a leadoff single for AlbertPujols. Melvin and the As trainers checked on Doolittle, but determined he wasfine to remain in the game. Doolittle may have been better off icing his leg onthe bench, as he gave up a double and another single before handing the ballover to Melvin with the As trailing 4-1.Hes a little sore, Melvin said. It got him pretty good.He was alright to pitch, certainly with the adrenaline and everything. Wellsee how he is tomorrow.Tomorrow, the As wrap up their series with the Angels andwill look to avoid their first sweep since falling to the Diamondbacks in threestraight contests in Arizona from June 8-10. Salvaging a win in the home seriesis especially important considering the As play 16 of their next 19 games awayfrom Oakland.We dont want to get swept by these guys at home, Melvinsaid. I think each and every game is important here in September. But theycome in and take the first two games from us; I think its just as important towin the game tomorrow to not get swept by them, let alone a homeroad issue.A dejected Parker stood at his locker in the clubhouse after the game and tooksolace in the fact that the As have Brandon McCarthy on the mound for thematinee series finale on Wednesday. We dont want to be on the losing end of anything, Parkersaid. And I think when we send Mac out tomorrow, we have a pretty good chanceof taking a game. And every game is important at this point.

Axford makes his 2017 debut; Doolittle takes step forward to return

Axford makes his 2017 debut; Doolittle takes step forward to return

OAKLAND — The A’s officially welcomed John Axford back into their bullpen fold Sunday, and they got some encouraging news about another reliever.

Sean Doolittle was expected to only throw a flat-ground session before the series finale against Boston, but he wound up throwing 15 pitches off the mound as well. That’s the first time Doolittle has thrown from the mound since joining the disabled list May 3 with a strained left shoulder. Next up is a 25-pitch session off the mound Wednesday.

The early indications are that Doolittle’s current shoulder woes aren’t as severe as the ailments that sidelined him for major portions of the past two seasons.

Axford was reinstated from the 10-day DL Saturday for his own shoulder strain, but his season debut came Sunday, when he handled the eighth inning and allowed one run. He was sidelined during the season-opening series against the Angels when he hurt his shoulder while warming up in the bullpen.

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All indications are that first baseman Yonder Alonso will be available to return to the lineup Tuesday for the opener of a two-game interleague series against the Miami Marlins. A’s manager Bob Melvin said before Sunday’s game that he considered Alonso as potentially being available off the bench. Given the A’s are off Monday, it’s reasonable to assume Alonso will be ready Tuesday when the Marlins start right-hander Jose Urena on the mound.

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The A’s are plenty familiar with Red Sox first baseman Mitch Moreland from his days with division rival Texas. But Moreland continues to do damage against Oakland even though he’s out of the AL West. Moreland’s two-run homer in the sixth off Andrew Triggs marked his third homer of the four-game series, and his 19th homer in 80 career games against the A’s. That’s his most homers against any major league club.

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The run Axford allowed in the eighth snapped a streak of 27 scoreless innings at home by the A’s bullpen. Josh Smith allowed five runs in the ninth.

A's denied sweep of Red Sox but still come away feeling good

A's denied sweep of Red Sox but still come away feeling good

OAKLAND — The A’s opted for the big-picture takeaway from their four-game series with the Boston Red Sox.

They won three of four from a team expected to be a major player for an American League postseason berth, though the weekend’s final chapter didn’t play out as planned.

Oakland surrendered 15 hits and committed three errors in a 12-3 drubbing by the Red Sox that prevented the A’s first four-game home sweep of Boston in 85 years.

If anything, Sunday’s rout proved how an aggressive base running team like Boston can exploit the A’s weaknesses when they play their ‘Mr. Hyde’ version of defense. The Sox stole four bases and gladly took an extra 90 feet whenever the opportunity presented itself.

The first three games of this series featured some nice defensive moments for the A’s, but Sunday they reverted to some bad habits, pushing their major league-high error total to 42.

“It gets you off to a slow start, and there’s a psychology to not playing good defense,” manager Bob Melvin said. “… It costs you when you don’t play good defense. It kind of permeates in the dugout and you know you’ve got some work to do offensively off a pretty tough pitcher.”

Boston lefty Eduardo Rodriguez (3-1), who carried a no-hitter into the eighth inning in a September game at the Coliseum, went eight innings Sunday and held the A’s to three runs, striking out eight.

Still, as the A’s broke for a rare day off in the middle of a homestand, Melvin wanted to make sure he delivered a message to his team:

“It was a good series,” he said. “Enjoy the off-day. Coming in here, if you say give us 3 out of 4 (against) them, you’ll take it. Granted, once you win three games you wanna get greedy and win the last game.”

Andrew Triggs (5-4) didn’t have his sharpest outing, allowing five earned runs and three walks over 5 1/3 innings, but he sure wasn’t helped in the field. The tone was set in the first, when Dustin Pedroia blooped a single to right field and Mark Canha’s throw back to the infield was wide of everybody. That allowed Mookie Betts to score all the way from first. In the fifth, Betts was running on the pitch, from first base, and motored all the way around to score on Pedroia’s perfectly executed hit-and-run.

That was the inning that Triggs said he regretted after the game. Chad Pinder’s two-run homer in the fourth had given the A’s a 3-2 lead, only to have Boston come right back the next inning and jump back ahead.

“It was a really good series,” Triggs said. “I’m just frustrated that I wasn’t able to put an exclamation point on it.”

The last time the A’s completed a four-game home series sweep of Boston came exactly 85 years ago Sunday. That was in 1932 — the year Babe Ruth “called his shot” against the Cubs in the World Series — when the A’s still played their home games at Philadelphia’s Shibe Park.