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Chavez finally gets support but 'pen squanders lead

ANAHEIM -- Jesse Chavez pitched well, and even got twice his usual run support. The A's hit three home runs, including a seventh-inning two-run shot by Josh Reddick that gave them a late lead. Really, Oakland only had one shaky area -- its bullpen -- Friday night at Angel Stadium, but it was enough to cost the A's in a 5-4 loss in the series opener. And that hasn't been unusual.

"The numbers indicate where we are with [the bullpen] -- and it's not good," manager Bob Melvin said. "It's the reason we're losing games like that."

The reliever who gave up the big hits Friday was one of the A's better ones, too -- Evan Scribner, who entered the game with a 2.70 ERA in a league-leading 30 appearances and left it having surrendered eighth-inning home runs to Mike Trout and Kole Calhoun that turned Oakland's 4-3 lead into the final, losing margin.

"Two pitches up in the zone, that's all it was," Scribner said. "You can't make the mistakes to those guys."

The pitch to Trout, on a 1-2 count, was supposed to be a slider in the dirt. The pitch to Calhoun was supposed to be a fastball away. Neither got there; both ended up in the seats.

That spoiled Chavez's seven-inning, three-run effort, which was backed by an unusual four runs from his offense. Chavez began the night with just 18 runs of support in his nine starts, a 2.00 average that was the worst in the Majors for qualified starters. Chavez is just 2-6 in 2015 despite his 2.64 ERA.

"[It's] either a lack of run support or we give it up after he comes out," Melvin said. "It hasn't been the starters. That's not the issue. The starters have been the best in the American League this year."

Chavez, who started the year in the bullpen himself, said he feels for the team's relievers when they struggle.

"Those guys down there have all the tools to get the job done, and we're still gonna ride out there with them, no doubt about it," he said. "[Scribner will] be back in that situation tomorrow, and that's the good part about this game, is he's good enough to be back in there."

The bullpen hasn't looked like the A's envisioned. Sean Doolittle's on the disabled list. Pitchers who Melvin said they were expecting to fill important roles, like Dan Otero and Ryan Cook, are in Triple-A. Oakland, Melvin said, doesn't really even have any good options for personnel changes at this point.

"Scribner's come out of the pack to be really good," he said, "but that's it."

And that's not enough for the A's skipper.

"Our offense has been good," Melvin said. "Our starting pitching has been good. There's some other facets that haven't been good, and they've cost us games -- a lot of them."

David Adler is an associate reporter for Follow him on Twitter @_dadler.
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