Facing uphill climb, A's fizzle in third straight loss

Facing uphill climb, A's fizzle in third straight loss

Facing uphill climb, A's fizzle in third straight loss
DETROIT -- With yet another loss to the Tigers in the book on Wednesday -- a 6-2 defeat at the hands of Justin Verlander -- the A's were left speculating an even bigger one to their pitching staff.

Already without the veteran duo of Brandon McCarthy and Bartolo Colon for the remainder of the regular season, the A's can't afford to add Brett Anderson to that list. But that they might have to do, after the lefty exited his start in Detroit with a right oblique strain.

The southpaw underwent an MRI, but results were not yet available late Wednesday evening, making it unclear how long Anderson will be out.

"Obviously they're going to take the most precautions with him, being as how good he is," catcher Derek Norris said. "You don't want to risk something that could take him out a long period of time. Hopefully he'll bounce back quickly."

Anderson had excelled since returning to the mound in August following Tommy John rehab, but he lasted just 2 1/3 innings, before departing after taking a tumble while throwing a 2-2 pitch -- his 48th of the night -- to Delmon Young in the third inning of Oakland's third straight loss.

Anderson was responsible for three of those runs, and his teammates couldn't pick him up, despite a handful of opportunities against Verlander. The A's forced him to throw 122 pitches over six innings, but they left seven on base during that span, never once moving a baserunner to third base.

"We had quality at-bats to get there, we just didn't get a big hit when we needed to, and that's what it takes," manager Bob Melvin said. "It's one thing to get his pitch count up and another to get hits with runners in scoring position, and we didn't do that."

"That's kind of his M.O.," Norris said. "Whenever he gets into trouble, he reaches back and turns it into a different gear. It seemed like that's what he was doing tonight.

"It's tough, a little frustrating. Obviously we haven't been putting up the runs and keeping them off the board like we hoped, but we can always bounce back and take one out of three."

Oakland has suddenly lost its previously strong grasp on the top American League Wild Card spot. The club entered the day half a game ahead of the Orioles, who won their contest with the Mariners late on Wednesday night to push the A's a half-game back of that top spot. The Rangers also beat the Angels to give Texas a four-game lead over the A's in the AL West.

Wednesday marked the third straight game that saw A's pitchers, normally superb, surrender at least five earned runs. In that time, they've given up 27, after surrendering just 19 over their previous nine games.

Omar Infante's two-run double sparked Detroit's three-run third inning, and after Jhonny Peralta extended the Tigers' lead to four with an RBI single off Pat Neshek in the fifth, Miguel Cabrera belted home run No. 41 off Jim Miller in the seventh, his third in two days against the A's.

Oakland didn't go quietly, posting a pair of runs on the board in the ninth. But it wasn't enough to keep the Tigers from securing the series win.

"Certainly we need to win some games," Seth Smith said, "and that starts tomorrow with one win."

"You just have to get through it," Melvin said. "You're never going to speed right through and win every game. There's going to be tough spots that you have to work through. We've got some injured guys, with Coco [Crisp] out and potentially Brett, so other guys are just going to have to pick it up."

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.