SAN FRANCISCO -- Timely hitting and stout defense carried the A's to three victories in three games to begin this four-game Bay Bridge interleague series set.
Neither made an appearance at AT&T Park for Oakland in the series finale Thursday as the Giants salvaged an unlikely 5-2 victory in a game the A's, whose six-game winning streak came to an end, had several opportunities to blow open early.
Consider: despite the A's having runners at second and third with none out in the first, they could not score. And despite Giants starter Barry Zito laboring early and often, the A's could only scratch across one run off the escape artist lefty, who walked a season high six batters and threw a season-high 117 pitches, just 63 of which were strikes.
Starting pitching report
A.J. Griffin was on cruise control through five innings, allowing just one hit and one walk. But the wheels came off quickly in the sixth as he was chased with two out. By the time the inning ended, Griffin was charged with four runs in 5 2/3 innings as he gave up five hits and struck out five while walking one in 92 pitches, 62 strikes. His record fell to 5-4 with the loss.
Already trailing 2-1, lefty Hideki Okajima was summoned to stop the bleeding against Giants left-handed hitter Brandon Belt. Instead, Belt doubled into the left-center gap to double the Giants' lead. Jerry Blevins gave up an unearned run in the seventh, and Pat Neshek threw a scoreless eighth.
At the plate
At one point, Coco Crisp was out-hitting the Giants all by himself, 3-1, and the A's had drawn six walks from Giants starter Barry Zito but the A's could not put the game out of reach or even chase Zito, who threw 117 pitches. Yoenis Cespedes singled to right in the seventh to extend his career-best hitting streak to 12 games while driving in John Jaso. The A's only had five hits and stranded 10 runners.
In the field
Adam Rosales had a pair of costly mistakes in the seventh inning. First, he drifted too far out in calling for the ball on Gregor Blanco's high pop up that fell for a base hit. Then, he tried to complete a double-play with a late throw to first that not only landed in the photo well next to the A's dugout, but allowed Nick Noonan to score and the Giants to go up, 5-2.
The Giants announced a crowd of 41,250, their 195th consecutive regular season home sellout, a crowd that was very quiet until the home team took a 4-1 lead in the sixth inning.
The A's get back to American League rules with a three-game set against the Chicago White Sox at the O.co Coliseum on Friday and Bartolo Colon (5-2, 3.82 ERA) takes the hill for Oakland. The right hander is averaging an MLB-low 0.59 walks per nine innings and is second in the bigs with a 9.75 strikeout-to-walk ratio. In 22 career starts against the White Sox, Colon is 10-8 with a 4.06 ERA and was 0-2 against them last year. Chicago counters with right-hander Dylan Axelrod (3-3, 4.21), who has never faced the A's.