Melvin: Every hit when we kept adding on was big
OAKLAND -- Pat Neshek had not pitched since last Wednesday, but when he entered Tuesday night's game, the situation was as big as his wait was long.
Bases loaded with Cincinnati Reds. Two out. The A's clinging to a four-run lead.
Neshek went to work and, three pitches later -- all sliders -- he had struck out Chris Heisey.
"It was a big situation so I just tried to stay focused and get ahead in the count," Neshek said. "I knew he'd probably be swinging after that."
Neshek (2-1) earned the victory with the A's 7-3 win.
[INSTANT REPLAY: A's unkind to Arroyo, defeat Reds 7-3]
Neshek, Jerry Blevins, Ryan Cook, Sean Doolittle and Dan Otero combined to throw 4 1/3 innings of scoreless ball. Not bad considering the bullpen had just lost four games and complied a 7.23 ERA on the recent seven-game road trip in which the A's went 2-5.
"It's important to get them back on the horse and get some confidence," said A's manager Bob Melvin.
Reds starter Bronson Arroyo gave up seven runs in four innings. This after entering the game with a June ERA of 1.57, having giving up only five earned runs in four starts this month. It was the right-hander's shortest outing since July 16, 2012, and the most runs he's allowed in a start since giving up eight to Cleveland on July 1, 2011.
Can too much be made of the A's recent 30-games-in-31-days stretch, or was Monday's off-day the perfect elixir for a team that stumbled to the finish of that stretch?
"When you're playing well, you don't care about 30 in 31," Melvin said. "You want to keep the routine. And we were for a while. We just got stung a little bit toward the end for us. So I think it was a good time for us to have a day off, to separate it, which were two very difficult losses."
Since July 1 of 2012, the A's are 102-60, the equivalent of a regular season. It's the best record in baseball over that time, just ahead of the Reds and the St. Louis Cardinals, who come to Oakland this weekend.
"It's great," Melvin said. "It means we've made some significant strides. But until you do it from April to September, it's trending and we're going in the right direction, but it would be nice to be able do that from April to September."
A's third baseman Josh Donaldson had a unique take when sneaking a peek at the Reds' dugout.
"They have some bigger names, but I feel luke we kind of resemble each other," Donaldson said.