A's leave Phoenix suddenly reeling

A's leave Phoenix suddenly reeling

A's leave Phoenix suddenly reeling
PHOENIX -- This isn't what the A's envisioned.

A three-game sweep at the hands of the D-backs was not supposed to follow a big series win over the Rangers that saw Oakland score a combined 18 runs and take three of four from baseball's powerhouse.

Yet, another loss at Chase Field on Sunday, a 4-3 decision, led to just that, as the A's dropped to a season-high nine games under .500.

"Not a good series," Bob Melvin said. "That was a bad series. Whenever we get swept, it's a bad series."

The A's skipper, visibly disappointed, didn't offer much else. His team's play, it seemed, said enough, particularly in a poorly executed first inning.

Arizona was quick to the board against lefty Travis Blackley, tallying three runs in the frame. All could have been avoided, though, if not for an error committed by shortstop Cliff Pennington.

With one out and the bases loaded for Jason Kubel, Blackley induced a ground ball from the outfielder that second baseman Jemile Weeks fielded cleanly at second base. With a double play in mind, Weeks made a throw that Pennington missed completely, allowing a run to score and keeping the inning alive.

  • 142 wins
  • 110 wins

Aaron Hill's ensuing RBI base hit brought in two runs, and the D-backs never gave back their lead, ultimately adding on in the fifth via a run-scoring single off the bat of Kubel.

"I just missed it," Pennington said. "A double play gets you out of the inning."

"It just sailed on him a little bit, but he knows, either way, he's gotta catch it," Melvin said.

The miscue followed an uninspiring start at the plate, where the A's stranded runners at the corners with no outs in the top half of the inning after going 3-for-14 with runners in scoring position on Saturday, before retiring in order against D-backs southpaw Joe Saunders in the next two frames.

Back-to-back doubles from Jonny Gomes and Brandon Inge in the fourth resulted in a two-run rally, but that's all the A's could manage until the seventh, when Seth Smith's pinch-hit RBI single off righty reliever Bryan Shaw cut Arizona's lead to one.

"It's tough, but we were in all of the games," Smith said. "It's frustrating but nothing to be alarmed about."

"I knew it was going to be tough to come across runs, they are a scrappy team," Saunders said. "Their numbers aren't the respect they get. Can't take them for granted."

Saunders, who surrendered two runs (one earned) in six innings, improved to 13-4 with a 3.34 ERA in 19 career starts against the A's, who got just 4 2/3 innings out of Blackley. The lefty was tagged for three earned runs on six hits with three walks and two strikeouts, before handing the ball over to a dominant pair of arms.

The Oakland relief duo of Evan Scribner -- making his A's debut -- and Sean Doolittle combined for seven strikeouts in 3 1/3 perfect innings, while giving their club a chance at a comeback that was never fulfilled. In four innings with Oakland, Doolittle has seven strikeouts.

"They were terrific," Melvin acknowledged. "They kept us in there, as we scored some runs, and we had a chance to battle back but we didn't.

"We have to be tougher than that. You don't just throw your hat in after a bad first inning. You're not going to win many games."

The A's are now 1-5 in Interleague Play, as they look forward to Monday's off-day before resuming action against the Senior Circuit in Colorado, where they're set to engage in a three-game set with the Rockies.

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.