OAKLAND (AP) — The Oakland Athletics couldn’t complete a series sweep of the Baltimore Orioles and lost ground to the Texas Rangers in the AL West, yet manager Bob Melvin wasn’t too upset.
Why would he be?
The A’s still hold a comfortable lead in the wild-card race heading into their final road trip this year and are in a position few people thought they would be in when the season began.
“When you win the first two games you want to get greedy and take that third game,” Melvin said following Oakland’s 9-5 loss to the Orioles on Sunday. “We’re playing it day to day but going into this series if you’ve got a chance to take two of three from a good team like that you’ll take it. We really thought we had a chance to win this game as well.”
Oakland managed 11 hits off six Baltimore pitchers and continued to flex its offensive muscle with two two-run homers, but couldn’t overcome uncharacteristic wildness from starter Dan Straily.
Straily (2-1) issued a career-high five walks in 4 2-3 innings, giving up four runs and five hits while ending a 44-game streak in which A’s pitchers had walked three or fewer batters.
“That’s as many walks as I’ve ever given up in my life,” Straily said. “Just poor fastball command. I started falling behind hitters and then started trying to be too fine. I wasn’t even close to the strike zone.”
That was symptomatic of Oakland’s pitching in general.
Seven pitchers combined to walk nine batters, including one from reliever Tyson Ross with the bases loaded in the fifth.
Matt Wieters hit two solo home runs and Endy Chavez had four hits to help the Orioles avoid the sweep and remain within a game of the New York Yankees in the AL East.
Chavez drove in two runs for the Orioles, who have won four of six in snapping a three-game road losing streak. J.J. Hardy, Mark Reynolds, Manny Machado, Chris Davis and Robert Andino also drove in runs.
Josh Reddick, who drove in three runs, and Stephen Drew hit two-run home runs for the A’s, who are two games ahead of the Orioles for the first wild-card spot.
Oakland’s three-game homestand was a brief respite before a grueling 10-game stretch in which they play at Detroit, New York and Texas. Seven of the A’s final 16 games are against the first-place Rangers.
“At this time of year I don’t think 16 in a row is going to bother us because every game’s going to have the magnitude that it is,” Melvin said. “Everybody’s looking forward to getting to the park and playing.”
Brian Matusz (6-10) retired all six batters he faced, two on strikeouts, to earn the victory for Baltimore. Jim Johnson got the last out for his 43rd save.
Randy Wolf went four innings in his first start for the Orioles following three relief appearances. He gave up two runs and six hits, walked two and struck out four in his longest outing since going seven for Milwaukee in a loss to Philadelphia on Aug. 19.
Reddick’s 29th home run, a two-run shot into the bleachers in right field, gave the A’s a 2-0 lead in the first.
Wieters’ first homer, with one out in the second, cut the lead in half. His fourth-inning home run put the Orioles ahead to stay.
Hardy’s RBI single in the third tied it. Reynolds walked with the bases loaded in the fifth and Chavez’s two-run single followed Machado’s RBI double in the seventh.
Drew’s two-run homer in the eighth made it 7-4.
Andino and Davis drove in runs for the Orioles in the ninth. Reddick added an RBI for the A’s in the ninth.
Notes: A’s OF Coco Crisp was out of the lineup with an allergic reaction in his left eye. ... RHP A.J. Griffin (6-0, 1.94) will pitch for the A’s in Detroit on Tuesday. He’s the only major league pitcher since at least 1918 to allow three runs or fewer and walk two or less in each of his first 11 starts.