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A's continue to rake, but bullpen can't hold it late

April 14, 2019

ARLINGTON -- Still pounding homers -- and finally bound homeward -- the A’s seemed headed for a satisfying conclusion to their 10-day, nine-game road trip in Sunday’s finale against the Rangers. But the A’s offense, which has carried the club throughout the journey, could not do enough to avoid an

ARLINGTON -- Still pounding homers -- and finally bound homeward -- the A’s seemed headed for a satisfying conclusion to their 10-day, nine-game road trip in Sunday’s finale against the Rangers. But the A’s offense, which has carried the club throughout the journey, could not do enough to avoid an 8-7 loss marred by a bullpen meltdown that erased a five-run Oakland lead.

The A’s hit multiple homers for a club-record seventh consecutive game and posted double-digit hits for the seventh game in a row, their longest such streak since 2013. After the bottom of the eighth inning, though, when Joakim Soria allowed four runs for the loss, those offensive superlatives didn’t lead to a win. And instead of a 5-4 trip, the A’s will spend Monday, their first scheduled day off since March 28, ruminating on a disappointing end to their 4-5 swing.

“We’ve been swinging the bats like we’re capable on this trip, it’s just, that’s a game we normally don’t lose,” manager Bob Melvin said. “We just had one guy get whacked around a little bit in the eighth inning.”

Soria came in with a 7-4 lead; the A’s led, 7-2, after four innings, but Hunter Pence's RBI groundout in the fifth and Elvis Andrus' solo homer in the seventh cut into the Rangers' deficit.

Melvin said he wanted to rest Lou Trivino, who has pitched in a Major League-high 11 games this season, so Soria was his preferred setup man.

“I wasn’t going to pitch Trevino today -- that’s what we brought Soria in to do,” Melvin said. “He’s one of our main guys, he just had a rough day. But Lou’s been in 11 out of 18 games coming into this game, and I was going to try to give him a little bit of a break today. That’s Soria’s job to do, and we just didn’t get it done today.”

Soria allowed a shift-beating single to left-handed-hitting Nomar Mazara to start the eighth, then recorded a fielder’s choice, a wild pitch and a walk before switch-hitter Asdrubal Cabrera laced an RBI single. The Rangers brought in left-handed batter Danny Santana to pinch-hit, and Santana knocked a game-tying, two-run triple.

Yusmeiro Petit was brought in to try to stave off a collapse, but Delino DeShields’ squeeze-bunt single plated the winning run.

The loss invalidated Brett Anderson’s solid six-inning start in which he allowed only two earned runs. Anderson has given up only four earned runs over his last 12 2/3 innings (a 2.92 ERA).

“It’s a shame after the game that Brett Anderson threw today that we ended up losing,” Soria said. “It’s a tough situation for me, especially because we had the lead. Nobody wants to blow that game away, but it’s part of the game. Obviously, I need to make some adjustments against left-handed hitters. … It seems like they’re more comfortable hitting against me than the righties.”

After falling behind, the hot-hitting A’s offense -- led by three hits from Marcus Semien and solo homers by Stephen Piscotty and Matt Chapman -- didn’t have any heroics left in it for the ninth.

“If we win today’s game, it feels a lot better, obviously … but I think we’re swinging the bats well,” Melvin said. “We’ve just got to put this one behind us and move on, get an off-day, get some distance from it. It was a tough one to lose.”

Prospect Luzardo feeling ‘fantastic’

Left-hander Jesus Luzardo, the A's No. 1 prospect per MLB Pipeline, is progressing well in his return from a shoulder injury that shut him down in late March, Melvin said Sunday.

“Luzardo feels absolutely fantastic, but he’s still not throwing yet,” Melvin said. “He’s champing at the bit -- he wants to throw. But we also understand for a guy like him, when you set a timetable, there’s really no need to speed it up. We just want to make sure when he comes back, he’s fully healthy. Are we excited about potentially getting him back at some point? Absolutely.”

The 21-year-old Luzardo was shut down on March 21 with a sore left shoulder. Last season, he pitched at three levels of the Minors, finishing with Triple-A Nashville and compiling a combined 10-5 record with a 3.05 ERA and 129 strikeouts in 109 1/3 innings.

Rainout allows Melvin to tweak rotation

Marco Estrada was supposed to pitch Saturday night against the Rangers before the game was postponed due to rain. That gave Melvin a chance to tinker with his starting rotation. He started Brett Anderson as originally planned Sunday, pushing Estrada back to Tuesday at home against the Astros.

“Marco and [last Friday’s starter, Mike] Fiers both are fly-ball guys and [Tuesday’s] game’s at the Coliseum, so there’s something to that,” Melvin said. “But it was more so that we were looking to put Brett in between those two guys [who have] similar styles. You’re always looking to potentially break that up, so this was our opportunity to do that.”