Parker pitches well, but Verlander shuts down A's

Parker pitches well, but Verlander shuts down A's

Parker pitches well, but Verlander shuts down A's
OAKLAND -- Under the best of circumstances, beating Justin Verlander is a tall order. It was an even tougher task with the patchwork the lineup the A's were forced to use on Sunday.

Without six of the players the A's would have likely chosen to start against Verlander, had they been healthy, Oakland managed just two hits against the Tigers' ace in seven innings. Detroit scored the go-ahead run on Austin Jackson's bases-loaded walk in the sixth, and the Tigers went on to a 3-1 victory.

The A's were shorthanded because Yoenis Cespedes (strained muscle in hand) and Coco Crisp (ear infection) are on the disabled list. Brandon Inge (tight hamstring), Jemile Weeks (sprained left ankle), Kila Ka'aihue (sore right hamstring) and Kurt Suzuki (sore left thumb) were all rested on Sunday to let their injuries heal.

That left a lineup that included five players batting under .200. The only run they managed came on Seth Smith's homer in the fifth inning off Verlander.

Still, the A's weren't waving any white flags just because of the less-than-optimum lineup.

"I think that we have confidence in all 25 guys on our team," Daric Barton said. "That's why they are here, for when guys are banged up. [Verlander] pitched a great game today, so we have to tip our hats to him."

Verlander retired his first 11 hitters with relative ease. Before there could be too much buzz about a no-hitter -- which would have been understandable with Verlander against the A's shorthanded lineup -- Josh Reddick broke it up with a two-out single in the fourth.

In the fifth, Smith led off with a homer, but that was the last hit the A's got off Verlander. He retired nine in a row before walking Smith in the seventh.

"He looked good," Barton said. "He mixed it up real well and hit his spots. He misses barrels. He's their ace for a reason."

Although the A's didn't know it, they caught a break because Verlander left after seven innings and 104 pitches with a blister on his right thumb that had started to bleed.

"I looked down there towards the end of the seventh inning and it was bleeding," Verlander said. "So when I came out of the seventh, I knew that I'd be going back out, but I told [pitching coach] Jeff [Jones] and the trainer to come up with me, because I sit up here and watch the game and get a little better look at it, because I obviously don't want to alert the whole world that I might have something going on.

"We got up here. We talked about it. Obviously I want to go back out, but the risk-reward, seventh inning and we've got Joaquin [Benoit] and [Jose] Valverde lined up to go, so there's no point going out there and risk maybe something serious happening."

In the end, it didn't matter, because the A's couldn't score against Benoit or Valverde either. They had a potential rally when Barton led off with the eighth with a walk against Benoit and got to second on a sacrifice, but Eric Sogard and Cliff Pennington both struck out. The A's went in order in the ninth.

"Anytime [Verlander] comes out of a game you feel pretty good, but Benoit pitched good and so did Valverde," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "We just came up short against three pretty good pitchers today."

Despite the lack of offense against Verlander, the A's were able to hang in the game and have a chance to win because of their solid pitching, with one notable exception.

Rookie Jarrod Parker was inconsistent, but he maneuvered his way out of trouble for most of his day. Parker stranded two runners in the first and he left the bases loaded in the second. He then pitched two perfect innings before allowing a run on Miguel Cabrera's two-out RBI single in the fifth.

In a 1-1 game, Parker retired the first two hitters of the sixth before everything fell apart.

Brennan Boesch dumped a bloop double just past a diving Collin Cowgill in center field. Parker then walked two consecutive batters to load the bases and end his day.

Melvin said he thought Parker "ran out of gas," but Parker said he wasn't tired.

"I think I let my mechanics get away and I couldn't get back to them," Parker said. "I'll have to make an adjustment. Watch some video, get back to what I was doing."

Melvin then handed Parker's bases-loaded jam to Grant Balfour, appearing for the first time since Melvin announced that he was no longer the closer. Balfour battled Jackson through an eight-pitch at-bat, but he eventually walked the Tigers' leadoff man on a pitch that was low and away, forcing home the go-ahead run.

Melvin didn't think he had put Balfour in a tougher spot than he's accustomed to facing.

"Any time you have late inning relievers, they come in with guys on base," Melvin said. "That's the way it is. That's what he's used to doing."

Jeff Fletcher is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.