BALTIMORE -- The A's lost a starter on the same day they gained one back. So it goes in a most bizarre season somehow bound for October.
As Trevor Cahill journeyed west to Oakland for an MRI on a strained back muscle, a now-healthy Brett Anderson returned to the mound -- for all of an hour, before his first visit from a team trainer.
It was a wonky throw with an undesirable outcome that did in Anderson, who remained in the game following John Andreoli's RBI infield tapper with one out in the fourth, but for only one more hitter. Battered by singles, the lefty Anderson was responsible for four runs in a 5-3 loss to the Orioles that snapped the club's six-game winning streak on Thursday evening at Camden Yards.
The A's, who finished 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position while falling shy of a three-game sweep, thus missed an opportunity to gain on the idle Astros and Yankees, instead dropping 3 1/2 games behind Houston in the American League West and 1 1/2 behind New York in the Wild Card, with 15 games to play.
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They managed little against Orioles righty Dylan Bundy outside of Stephen Piscotty's 24th home run -- ninth in his past 23 games -- a second-inning solo shot that extended his hitting streak to 14 games. Nick Martini collected three hits, driving in a run in the fifth, but the A's formidable offense was otherwise quiet on this night, leaving the bases loaded in the eighth.
"We give ourselves opportunities a lot, and typically we do come through," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "So it was another game where we had a chance -- especially in the eighth inning, which is a big inning for us -- and we just didn't come through."
Anderson, meanwhile, was victimized by a pair of infield singles in the first, including a leadoff roller off the bat of Cedric Mullins that just barely stayed fair. It all set the stage for Timothy Beckham's two-out, two-run single.
"The first batter of the first was kind of a microcosm of the rest of the outing," Anderson said. "You couldn't roll one closer to the foul line than he did."
Anderson retired six of his next seven batters before yielding two more singles in the fourth. A wild pitch put two in scoring position. Andreoli chopped one to the left side of the infield, forcing Anderson to scurry over and make an awkward throw home that went awry.
Following a brief visit from a member of the team's medical staff, Anderson allowed another run-scoring hit that ended his night. He gave up seven hits, all singles, while totaling 59 pitches in 3 1/3 innings after missing two weeks with a forearm strain.
"Nicked him up a little bit," Melvin said. "Didn't really hit him all that hard. It was a bunch of singles, but at the end of the day, he gives up seven hits and a walk, it's time to go get him."
"Today was about as frustrating as you can get, because every ground ball seemed to find a hole," Anderson said. "Whenever I got weak contact, it was too soft to get him out, so it was just one of those days where it was extremely frustrating. Small victory: my body felt good, my arm felt good, the stuff was fine whenever I trusted it and didn't overthrow."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Ramon Laureano and Matt Chapman delivered back-to-back singles to open the eighth inning against Miguel Castro, leading Orioles manager Buck Showalter to turn to lefty Paul Fry to face switch-hitting Jed Lowrie. The A's infielder was called out on strikes, but Khris Davis drew a walk to load the bases for Matt Olson, who also worked a walk to bring in a run and shrink Baltimore's lead to one. With just one out in the inning, the A's had a chance to pounce, but right-hander Mychal Givens struck out Piscotty and got Marcus Semien to fly out and squash the threat.
"That's a pretty good guy they brought in, too," Melvin said. [Givens] is tough on righties. We felt good about our chances. Stephen is usually one of our clutchest guys. So we keep doing that enough, we're going to come through as we have before. We just didn't tonight."
Martini, who reached base in all four plate appearances, enjoyed his 10th multi-hit game of the season in just his 42nd game overall.
HE SAID IT
"I'd rather go out there and give up lasers than weak contact and balls that should be outs but they don't hit it hard enough or they hit it just out of the reach, whereas I make the mistake and I can live with that. But whenever you execute your pitch and don't get rewarded for it, it makes it that much more frustrating. " -- Anderson
The A's will make their way to St. Petersburg on Friday for a three-game set with the surging Rays. Right-hander Edwin Jackson (5-3, 3.26 ERA) will be on the mound for the 4:10 p.m. PT opener at Tropicana Field, while Tampa counters with right-hander Diego Castillo (3-2, 3.45).