Lone Tigers run spoils Chavez gem

A’s starter Jesse Chavez turned in a dime Tuesday night. Maybe a fifty-cent piece, allowing one unearned run on five hits and two walks while striking out four batters in eight innings of work.

He just didn’t get the run support to make it a dollar.

Oakland’s three-game winning streak was broken up by the Tigers, as outfielder Anthony Gose scored the deciding run on a sacrifice fly from fellow outfielder Rajai Davis in the game’s second at-bat.

Gose initially singled to left, and stole second base, advancing to third on an errant throw from catcher Josh Phegley. Gose would have been caught dead to rights on a solid catch-and-throw, but errors have haunted the A’s all season and Tuesday night was no different.

Manager Bob Melvin said:

“We did some good things today, we just didn’t come up with a big hit. At any particular time, that game could have swung the other way. And Jesse pitched great. You can’t expect much more out of that. It’s a sacrifice fly that he ends up giving for his only run.”

The unearned run would be the difference in the only column that counts during a season. After arguably his best performance of a pretty lengthy career, Chavez said:

“It sucks, but the boys didn’t dwell on it. We didn’t worry about it. It is what it is. … I just tried to take it inning by inning, every at bat by at bat. I don’t really look into it as ‘oh, this is my best start of my career,’ or anything like that.”

Chavez added:

“I just try to give the guys a good chance to win and try to get them in as quick as possible.”

Detroit starter David Price was able to match the output of Chavez, allowing five hits and one walk with three strikeouts over seven innings.

The A’s have recorded just one win this season against a left-handed starter, and Chavez has only one win in seven starts, despite allowing three runs or less in five of them.

Perhaps what’s most amazing: It’s been four straight days where an A’s starter hasn’t allowed an earned run.

That hasn’t happened since 1928, when Philadelphia A’s starters Lefty Grove, Howard Ehmke, George Earnshaw and Jack Quinn mowed down batters during the dog days of August.

Photos by Jeffery Bennett/SFBay

Despite the loss, Chavez said the team is taking encouragement from the string of good starts:

“We try to feed off each other. From the first man on the staff, from Sonny, down to the last man on the staff, whoever that may be. We just try and feed off each other and that’s what we’ve been doing all year, and that’s something we’re going to try and keep doing.”

With quality pitching continuing, Oakland needs quality at-bats to string together more wins. Which is becoming tough. Oakland hasn’t won more than three straight games since a six-game win streak last July. The A’s are now 17-31, and 2-14 in one-run ballgames, worst in baseball on both counts.

It’s a shame, too, with a multi-hit day from Ben Zobrist, who was reinstated from the disabled list Monday and appearing in his first game since undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery in the finals days of April.

Zobrist’s career has been as one of the most successful utility men in baseball history. He made his sixth start at second base this season, five more have come in the outfield.

Melvin gave Zobrist a vote of confidence for his part of the big first inning error which scored the winning run, saying that he didn’t see any hitch on the part of the night’s second baseman.

What doomed the A’s Tuesday, though, was going 0-for-11 with runners in scoring position and leaving nine on base. Melvin said:

“It just came down to us not getting the key hit when we needed to. … I’d like to say (the errors) will end overnight, but it feels like it’s probably going to be a process.”

Things almost got interesting when Tigers closer Joakim Soria entered in the ninth in to close it out.

With two down, outfielder Sam Fuld doubled to left, the ball squirting past former Athletic Yoenis Cespedes in what might have turned into a triple had Fuld received the green light.

Leadoff man Billy Burns took strike one looking. A breaking pitch on the inside half of the plate was smacked foul on the next for strike two.

Burns battled, fouling one back and then taking a ball. But ultimately he popped out to Cespedes to end the game.

The A’s just couldn’t get the hits when they needed them most, even when Chavez matches his career-high innings pitched, doesn’t allow an earned run, and the bullpen does their job.

Things aren’t going well for the A’s these days, even when they do. They’ll face the Tigers to close the series Wednesday afternoon, then duel with the New York Yankees in a four-game marathon at home.


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