O'Flaherty working through a bad stretch

Reliever already has pair of losses this season

O'Flaherty working through a bad stretch

OAKLAND -- The A's bullpen has only sporadically looked like the group assumed to be one of the club's greatest strengths at season's start. On Friday night, in a 5-4, 11-inning loss to the Astros, it picked up its American League-leading fifth loss in 19 games.

In the A's eight wins, their relievers have allowed just one earned run in 23 1/3 innings. In their 10 losses, they've surrendered 26 earned runs in 31 1/3 innings.

"Just one of those stretches," said A's starter Scott Kazmir, who tossed seven scoreless innings. "We know what we're capable of. We know what kind of bullpen we have. It's just a matter of getting everyone going, that's all it is. I think we'll be just fine."

Lefty Eric O'Flaherty has been responsible the bullpen's last two losses. This is the same reliever who, before Sunday's loss in Kansas City, had not lost since Aug. 14, 2011, a stretch spanning 120 1/3 innings.

Grossman's two-run single

O'Flaherty was brought in to pitch the 11th inning of a 2-2 ballgame, after the A's rallied following right-hander Dan Otero's two-run 10th frame. O'Flaherty walked his first two batters and ultimately offered up a go-ahead, two-run single to Robbie Grossman. He was also charged with one more run in the inning, raising his season ERA to 11.37

"He's getting pretty good movement, he's just not harnessing it," said A's manager Bob Melvin. "He's not throwing it over the plate. He's a guy we really feel like has a great chance to get us ground balls. He's got a history of getting righties and lefties out. It's just right now, the last few times have been a little bit of a struggle for him."

Jane Lee is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Major Lee-ague, and follow her on Twitter @JaneMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.