OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Baltimore Orioles manager Buck Showalter was encouraged by what he saw in Brian Matusz’s return to the majors, even if the results haven’t changed all that much.
For Baltimore, owner of the worst record in the American League, success has to be measured in smaller increments this season. Called up from the minors earlier in the day, Matusz pitched into the seventh inning but was knocked around for six runs and eight hits in an 8-4 loss to the Oakland Athletics on Tuesday night.
Two of the runs Matusz allowed came on bloop hits in the third inning while two others scored with two outs in the seventh.
“He pitched a lot better than the numbers indicate,” said Showalter after his club lost for the 15th time in its last 19 road games. “I liked the fact that he got a little stronger as the game went on. It was a good spot for him to make his first start and I thought he handled it well.”
It’s the fifth straight loss for the Matusz (1-5), who walked three and struck out five in his first start since June 30.
And while it was the Baltimore left-hander’s longest outing of the season, it marked the third straight start in which he’s allowed six earned runs or more.
“The walks killed me,” Matusz said. “You’ve got to be able to get ahead in the count. That’s the only thing that killed me today was getting behind at times. But I’ll take the positives. I’ve made a lot of strides.”
Josh Willingham hit a home run and had two hits, Coco Crisp drove in two runs and the A’s snapped a four-game losing streak.
Cliff Pennington had three hits, Jemile Weeks had two and both drove in runs for Oakland. Scott Sizemore, Kurt Suzuki and Hideki Matsui also had RBIs.
Josh Bell drove in two runs for the Orioles, who have lost 13 of their last 15 games in Oakland. Vladimir Guerrero and Robert Andino also drove in runs.
“I would have liked to see us give Brian a little breathing room there but we didn’t really mount much,” Showalter said. “It’s a very pitcher friendly ballpark but you have to do some things.”
Guillermo Moscoso (6-6) won for the third time in his last four starts. He allowed three runs — two earned — on five hits. Moscoso walked one and struck out four.
Bell was a late replacement for Chris Davis, who was placed on the disabled list with a slight tear in his right shoulder after being in the original lineup.
Willingham’s third-inning home run snapped a five-game homerless streak for the A’s, who have 77 homers on the year.
Crisp’s two-run double in the seventh broke open a close game. Matsui followed with an RBI single.
Sizemore and Weeks each doubled home a run in the second to help give Oakland the early advantage. Pennington singled home a run and was later thrown out at the plate by Orioles center fielder Adam Jones.
Jones also caught Willingham off first base to complete a double play in the sixth. He now has 13 outfield assists, most by any center fielder and second most by any major league outfielder.
Bell drove in a run in the third and fifth. Guerrero doubled in a run in the fourth.
Suzuki added a sacrifice fly in the eighth to make it 8-3.
Weeks has 73 hits in his first 59 games with the A’s, an Oakland record.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)