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A's bats quiet in second straight loss

OAKLAND -- Two days into the season, the A's have yet to put down on paper what they view as the blueprint for success in 2013.

Once sketched out, it should look a lot like the one used in the second half of 2012, when the A's blazed through a magical comeback trail to capture the American League West crown on the last day of the season.

It was during that time they got strong performances from both the rotation and the bullpen, along with productive at-bats that resulted in 112 home runs in 76 games. But Tuesday's 7-1 loss to the Mariners, following Monday's 2-0 shutout, showcased little of the A's winning formula.

So far, the two-day-old A's resemble the same club that hit just .225 during the first half of last season and averaged just 3.71 runs, compared to 5.81 after the break.

Not only have the A's yet to score five runs in a single game or even at all, but they've only managed six hits total with 17 strikeouts through 18 innings in a two-day span for a .100 (6-for-60) team average.

"That's not going to win you many games," manager Bob Melvin said. "Then we walked seven or eight or whatever it was, so that's not a great recipe to win the game. It was a bad game for us today."

For the record, it was eight walks -- a number issued by the A's staff just five times all of last year -- and Oakland is now 0-2 for just the third time in the last nine seasons.

Offensively, three hits came Monday against a dominant Felix Hernandez, with only three more collected Tuesday. Two were against right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma, whose only mistake through six impressive frames was a second-inning home run by Yoenis Cespedes.

Eric Sogard reached base in the third, via a one-out base hit and, after Seattle's staff retired 13 straight A's hitters, Jed Lowrie found his way on base for the first time in green and gold with a seventh-inning single. Otherwise, Oakland's offense proved lifeless.

"Obviously, last night was difficult for obvious reasons, with Felix coming out and pitching a game," said Brandon Moss, hitless in three at-bats. "Tonight, Iwakuma did well, but we squared some balls up. But we didn't make him pitch like we're capable of making him pitch.

"We almost had a passiveness to us, where we knew we weren't getting anything going, we were trying to make something happen instead of just playing loose. You feel things aren't there, and as a team you're not clicking and you're trying to make things happen, trying to force it. We'll come out tomorrow, and it can't be much worse than tonight."

On the mound, the A's looked only slightly better but not by much, with Jarrod Parker surrendering four runs through five innings in his 2013 debut. The right-hander issued three walks, including two in a three-run third that culminated in Michael Morse's opposite-field three-run homer on a 2-2 count that would normally call for a changeup.

But Parker didn't have one, so he threw a fastball instead.

"I didn't really have anything changeup-wise I could go to tonight," Parker said. "That's something I can normally go to for a strike and finish guys, and I never got to a point where I felt comfortable with my release point with it."

Morse went deep again in the ninth against righty Grant Balfour, capping off a rather forgettable display by the A's bullpen.

After Jerry Blevins and Pat Neshek combined for a scoreless inning upon Parker's departure, Ryan Cook took to the mound and walked three himself. He also hit a batter while lasting two-thirds of an inning. Evan Scribner gave up a run in the eighth.

"It's hard for our pitchers to go out there and pitch knowing that their offense isn't clicking, knowing that they have to be perfect," Moss said. "They might try to be too fine, and I'm sure they put some pressure on themselves. They're not blind to the at-bats that we're having. It definitely wasn't a very good night."

Jane Lee is a reporter for Read her blog, Major Lee-ague, and follow her on Twitter @JaneMLB.
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