OAKLAND -- Another Jharel Cotton start that went off-script left the A's on the wrong end of a two-game series victory at the hands of Seattle on Wednesday afternoon.
The series finale saw Cotton surrender three home runs in six innings, one to Kyle Seager and two to Nelson Cruz, in a 6-3 loss at the Coliseum. The rookie right-hander was on the hook for all six runs, his ERA jumping to 5.72.
That's a far cry from the tidy 2.15 ERA he posted in five starts upon his callup last fall.
"Last year, I feel like he located a little bit better on a consistent basis," catcher Bruce Maxwell said. "Plus, he was new. Goes with all of us. As soon as you get called up, sometimes guys have a little bit more success than they would when they settle down, because you're new, nobody really knows you or your game, and now they have a full scouting report.
"Now you can't make those mistakes anymore. When you work behind hitters like Nelson Cruz, they make you pay for it."
Cotton has also been working without his signature pitch in tip-top form. He has repeatedly noted he doesn't have the same feel for his changeup and thus hasn't been throwing it as much. Seager got him on the pitch in the first inning for a three-run shot.
Cruz launched a two-run homer in the third on a 3-1 fastball offering, before depositing a slider over the center-field wall in the fifth for a solo shot.
"The homers kind of did him in," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "Other than that, we needed at least six innings out of our starter today. At the end, he seemed like he got a little better. You just have to keep them down earlier, minimize the damage some. When you give up home runs with guys on base, it ends up costing you, putting us in a hole."
Cotton's season was interrupted by a right thumb blister in July, and he's since allowed 14 earned runs in 14 2/3 innings in three starts off the DL.
"His stuff's fine, his velo is there, it's just executing," Maxwell said. "If you don't execute, with guys like Cruz and Seager, they're going to make you pay for it."
"Every game is a learning experience to get better every time I go out," Cotton said. "I'm just going to take today's start and learn from it and go out there and do it again."
Jane Lee has covered the A's for MLB.com since 2010. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.