Sloppy A's miss chance to increase Wild Card lead
Kazmir's struggles compounded by continued defensive miscues
OAKLAND -- The A's won consecutive games this weekend for the first time since mid-August, seemingly back on track and in control of their own destiny, only to return to the Bay for their final regular-season homestand and flop in a messy 6-3 loss to the last-place Rangers on Tuesday.
Birthday boy Brandon Moss homered for a second straight game, further proof that his prolonged funk may be a thing of the past, but the A's had little else to celebrate on a two-error night, other than perhaps the fact that the Royals also lost, keeping Oakland's one-game lead for the top American League Wild Card spot intact.
Twelve games remain, and the A's must quickly absolve themselves of Tuesday's dreadful play if they want to regain the type of momentum needed in such a crucial stretch. Specifically, they must cut out the errors -- they have eight in their last six games and 103 on the season -- to help out a pitching staff that's already having to work with little wiggle room.
Starter Scott Kazmir did not shy away from expressing his frustration and stood by manager Bob Melvin's comment that it "didn't look like we were ready to play tonight for whatever reason defensively."
"That's what it looked like," said Kazmir. "That's exactly what it looked like.
"I feel like that was a game that just doesn't happen. Just doesn't happen in September when you're in a pennant race -- when you're in a race to make a playoff run, I guess I should say. You just don't play like that. To be honest, I've never seen anything like that before at the Major League level. But we've just got to go out there and continue to battle."
Kazmir watched two unearned runs score in his time on the mound -- which amounted to just 4 1/3 innings, with six runs totaled in that span. The lefty scattered nine hits, and four of them didn't even leave the infield -- including Ryan Rua's fourth-inning leadoff grounder that third baseman Josh Donaldson couldn't get to first base on time. One out later, Jake Smolinski belted his first Major League home run.
Then, when Daniel Robertson bounced a base hit into right field with Rougned Odor on first, Josh Reddick gunned down Robertson at second, but Lowrie did not see the chugging Odor round third, nor did his teammates provide any communication, and the Rangers' infielder scored easily.
"Obviously, I'm not standing out there giving up runs," Lowrie said. "If I know the guy's going, I'm going to throw it home."
Things worsened for Oakland's shortstop in a three-run fifth, as he airmailed a throw on another grounder from Rua, allowing Adrian Beltre to score. Asked if he's still affected by his right index finger he fractured in August, Lowrie said he's not.
"It just took a really hard bounce and I had to wait back on it," he said, "and I rushed the throw because I was in a hurry to try to get the guy out."
Robinson Chirinos' ensuing RBI single marked the end for Kazmir, but not before he and catcher Derek Norris exchanged words on the mound. Melvin maintianed they discussed some pitch-selection issues, while Kazmir said, "That's between me and him. Just some little things."
"Didn't look like there was as much zip on the ball," Melvin said of Kazmir. "You see games like that toward the end of a season when there will be games when you're on and some when you're not. But we didn't play great defense behind him, made him throw some extra pitches."
"It's really tough, it makes you have to work," said Kazmir. "One way or another I should have got it done."
Outside of Moss' sixth-inning homer, a solo shot to right field, the A's only other runs came in the fourth, with Adam Dunn doubling and scoring on Reddick's sacrifice fly and Norris chipping in with an RBI single.
It was an ugly scene, otherwise.
"We got beat all the way around, unfortunately," said Melvin. "I thought we'd come ready to play tonight."