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A's rotation hopefuls have mixed results

Mengden gets roughed up, Blackburn looks sharp vs. White Sox
MLB.com @JaneMLB

MESA, Ariz. -- It was a mixed bag of results for two pitchers in competition for a place in the A's rotation on Monday.

Right-hander Daniel Mengden drew the start and turned in a shaky outing, furthering the team's spring pitching woes. But right-hander Paul Blackburn bucked the trend, delivering three perfect innings to cap a 9-9 tie with the White Sox at Hohokam Stadium. The A's were down 9-0 at one point.

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MESA, Ariz. -- It was a mixed bag of results for two pitchers in competition for a place in the A's rotation on Monday.

Right-hander Daniel Mengden drew the start and turned in a shaky outing, furthering the team's spring pitching woes. But right-hander Paul Blackburn bucked the trend, delivering three perfect innings to cap a 9-9 tie with the White Sox at Hohokam Stadium. The A's were down 9-0 at one point.

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"That's not easy to do, is pitch the last three," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "You gotta come into a game that's a little raggedy to begin with, the field's all chopped up and you gotta pitch the last three innings, and he focused and pitched really well. That's kind of the way we saw him pitch last year."

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Blackburn, who fanned three on the day, allowed four runs over two innings in his previous outing.

"I'm happy with the way it went," Blackburn said. "My first two outings, I was kind of trying to find my tempo, find that rhythm that I need to get my arm in the right spot, and throughout the week I worked on that a lot, and I felt like it was almost back to where it was.

"It's still early. Everyone has that day when it just clicks, and they kind of go from there. That's what this was for me. I think everything I did this week led to this."

For Mengden, it was a reversal from his last time out. After tossing three scoreless innings against the Cubs last week, he yielded four runs on five hits and two walks in 2 1/3 innings.

Veteran reliever Santiago Casilla also endured a rough one, allowing five runs in 2/3 of an inning. The A's 7.45 ERA is the highest among American League teams this spring.

Video: OAK@TEX: Mengden gets a DP, escapes trouble

"We're all fighting for a spot, and I think we're all working on our stuff, trying to get our feet back under us, trying to figure everything out, and I think we'll slowly get better as time goes on," Mengden said. "We'll all turn it on here in a bit."

Injury updates

Melvin hopes to have Renato Nunez back in the lineup before the spring scheduled closes, but he can't make any promises.

"I would hope so, maybe in a DH-type role," Melvin said. "But we'll see."

Nunez, who is out of options, is nursing a left hamstring strain and has been limited to light running and field work.

Up next

Left-hander Sean Manaea, who was scratched from his scheduled spring debut because of back tightness, will finally make his first Cactus League start of the season Tuesday. The A's are set to host the Rangers, who will counter with former A's pitcher Bartolo Colon in the 12:05 p.m. PT contest at Hohokam Stadium, which can be heard on Gameday Audio. Look for Manaea, who threw two simulated innings last week, to get up to roughly 50 pitches.

Jane Lee has covered the A's for MLB.com since 2010.

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