OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — The Baltimore Orioles had Oakland starter Gio Gonzalez reeling in the second inning, with one run in and the bases loaded.
A strikeout by J.J. Hardy and double-play grounder ended whatever hopes the Orioles had of getting to Gonzalez early, and they didn’t get anything at all against three Athletics relievers during a 6-2 loss on Friday night that ended Baltimore’s five-game winning streak.
“That’s what it comes down to,” said Hardy, who had one of only six hits by the Orioles. “You could win a game in the second inning, you could win a game in the ninth. We just didn’t get that big hit.”
Baltimore didn’t get much going at all.
The Orioles left the bases loaded in the second, stranded a runner at second in the fifth and seventh and grounded into four double plays to match their season high.
That left manager Buck Showalter’s team a mere 4-20 when scoring four runs or fewer.
“We had (Gonzalez) on the ropes … we had a chance to really open him up there,” Showalter said. “You don’t get him in that situation very often and it’s unfortunate. It’s frustrating because you’ve got a chance to beat a really good pitcher tonight.”
Ryan Sweeney hit a tiebreaking single as part of a three-run sixth inning, Josh Willingham homered and drove in two runs and the A’s won despite manager Bob Geren’s first ejection of the season.
Vladimir Guerrero singled to extend his hitting streak to 12 games for Baltimore, which had won the final five games on its homestand before coming West for a six-game trip.
Brad Ziegler (1-0) pitched two scoreless innings for the win while Joey Devine and Michael Wuertz pitched an inning apiece to complete the six-hitter.
The A’s had lost seven of nine since moving into a tie for first in the AL West on May 17, primarily due to an offense that is last in the American League in runs scored.
That wasn’t an issue against Baltimore. Oakland put runners on base in every inning, batted around during the sixth and reached double digits in hits for a second consecutive game. Every starter had at least one hit and five different players drove in runs.
It was the perfect start to the A’s six-game homestand against the Orioles and Yankees following a tumultuous four-game series in Los Angeles when reliever Brian Fuentes publicly criticized Geren for a lack of communication. Former Oakland reliever Huston Street also was critical of Geren in published reports this week.
Geren wasn’t around to see the end of this one.
The Oakland manager was ejected by home plate umpire Angel Campos after removing starter Gio Gonzalez in the top of the sixth. It’s the 10th time he’s been ejected in his career.
That seemed to spark the A’s, who scored three runs in the bottom of the sixth — all with two outs. Sweeney’s RBI single snapped a 2-2 tie, while Willingham and Kurt Suzuki also drove in runs to help Oakland take a 5-2 lead. All the runs came off Baltimore reliever Alfredo Simon (1-1).
Willingham hit his eighth home in the eighth.
Hideki Matsui’s two-out RBI-single in the first gave the A’s a 1-0 lead after third baseman Mark Reynolds’ fielding error prolonged the inning.
Baltimore got the run back against Gonzalez, who struggled with his control all night.
Gonzalez gave up consecutive singles to open the second then issued back-to-back walks, the second to Reynolds that forced in Guerrero. Gonzalez then struck out J.J. Hardy and got Jake Fox to ground into an inning-ending double play.
The A’s got another big two-out hit in the second when David DeJesus lined a shot that glanced off Reynolds’ glove and landed in left field. That slowed the ball enough to allow Mark Ellis to score from second.
Gonzalez got a scare in the fifth while trying to cover first base on an attempted double play. The throw from shortstop Cliff Pennington sailed behind Gonzalez, who rolled his left ankle while reaching back for the ball.
Fox scored easily from second on the error while Gonzalez limped noticeably around the infield. The Oakland lefty stayed in the game and gave up a walk to Nick Markakis before Guerrero hit into a double play.
Gonzalez, who finished with seven strikeouts and five walks, left after giving up a leadoff single to Wieters in the sixth.
Oakland loaded the bases in the fifth to chase Baltimore starter Chris Tillman but failed to score when Simon struck out Suzuki and Ellis.
Tillman gave up two runs and six hits with two strikeouts. The right-hander, who has three straight no-decisions, also walked
three and hit a batter.
“Tillman’s given us a chance to win more times than not,” Showalter said. “In fairness to him he made a couple of great pitches on Willingham, didn’t get the call and that kind of turned a lot of things around.”
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)