"This was a guy that we handled pretty well over in Colorado," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "I know his last time out was probably as good a game as he'd pitched this year. And he probably rode quite a bit of confidence from that game into this one. I'd like to think we'd get some better at-bats than we did over the course of the game, and we just didn't. He did pitch well, but I didn't think our at-bats were as good as we've seen here recently."
Guthrie was coming off a great outing against the White Sox, where he logged eight scoreless innings. He was equally dominant against the A's, allowing just three hits and a pair of walks. He struck out eight.
"One thing he was doing is he was getting the ball down a lot better. He was going in and out. I think he just had better command of his pitches, and he's definitely pitching with a lot more confidence," said outfielder Brandon Moss, who homered against Guthrie in Colorado but struck out in all three at-bats in the rematch.
"When we were in Denver, you could kind of see -- it wasn't that he would pitch around, but he did not want to come over the plate with anything. And then here, he goes after you. I think I made contact with one pitch he threw tonight. He just had some late movement on it, and I wasn't picking it up. I think a lot of us weren't.
Guthrie also learned something from the first encounter with the A's
"The nice thing was when I pitched against them earlier in the year, every pitch I threw was the exact wrong pitch at the wrong time," Guthrie said. "So I had a nice blueprint of what not to do. I don't think I threw too many duplicate pitches of what they punished me with."
Parker, meanwhile, was matching Guthrie in scoreless innings until the decisive five-run fifth. The inning started with a walk to Salvador Perez, Jeff Francoeur then doubled and Eric Hosmer followed with a run-scoring single that landed just in front of A's right fielder Josh Reddick. A walk to Lorenzo Cain loaded the bases with none out, which spelled trouble for Parker.
Chris Getz drove in another run with a sacrifice fly, and Alex Gordon added an RBI single. Then Parker finally got what appeared to be a tailor-made double play ball off the bat of Alcides Escobar, but the grounder jumped up on second baseman Jemile Weeks and landed in the outfield. Cain scored, and Gordon advanced to third on the error. Billy Butler drove in Gordon on a sacrifice fly to finish the inning's scoring and chase Parker from the game.
"I got behind, walked a couple guys and they hurt me then," Parker said. "That's something I can't really do. It's inexcusable to put guys on after attacking. I started pitching backwards, and that's not my style.
"That's something you always try to do as a pitcher: If you're in trouble, try to limit it. Try to minimize as much as you can and try to get in the dugout as quick as you can with the least amount of damage. So that's something I was trying to do, and I didn't do the best of it."
Parker looked sharp coming off a seven-day rest period -- that is until the fifth. He ended his night with five runs allowed (four earned) on five hits and two walks in just 4 2/3 innings, his shortest outing since July 7 against Seattle.
"For four innings I thought he was really good, and then the walk to Perez and Francoeur squared a ball up, Hosmer hit a ball hard. And he just couldn't find the command," Melvin said. "The location just looked like he was a little bit off that inning after a couple hits and ended up having to come out. Boy, it certainly felt like a game that was going to be a low-scoring game, close, and both starting pitchers were pitching well. One inning beat him."
Parker has hit a rough patch after strong performances in June and July. The loss to the Royals was his seventh of the season, and he hasn't won since July 21 against the Yankees.
"I think it's just going to take a well-pitched game [to turn things around], and I certainly thought he was on his way today. First pitch of the game was 95, and it really looked like he was back in pretty good rhythm. The one inning got him out rhythm, and the next thing you know we've got to take him out of the game," Melvin said.
"Young pitchers are going to go through some ups and downs over the course of the season. He was really good for a while, and he's going through a stretch right now where he hasn't been as good. He's going to have to fight his way through it."