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May 15, 2013
A's 'pen takes first loss against Rangers; Resop in rough patch

OAKLAND -- The A's bullpen hadn't been charged with a loss all season. The Rangers' bullpen hadn't blown a save. One of those things was going to change Tuesday night, and it turned out to be the former in Texas' 10-inning, 6-5 win, although the A's infused the bottom of the 10th with their usual brand of late drama against Texas closer Joe Nathan.

Chris Resop took the loss after allowing a pair of solo home runs in the top of the 10th to Adrian Beltre and Mitch Moreland. Resop fell behind Beltre 3-0 and threw a get-it-over fastball, and Beltre hit it over the wall in left-center. Moreland hit his second of the game two batters later on a two-strike fastball that Resop tried to elevate but left over the plate.

"You hate to be the guy that let your team down," Resop said. "It feels terrible."

That Resop was even in the game in the 10th came about after the A's couldn't hold a 4-3 lead in the eighth. After Bartolo Colon pitched six innings, manager Bob Melvin went to his typical late-inning relief combo. Sean Doolittle pitched out of trouble in the seventh, but Ryan Cook allowed a run in the eighth on a pair of singles and a sacrifice fly.

Grant Balfour came in for the ninth (with bench coach Chip Hale now calling the shots after Melvin was ejected for arguing an out call in the eighth -- more on that later) and in extras the A's brought in Resop, who has pitched primarily in early relief this season. Melvin later acknowledged Resop was "put in a little bit of a different position than he's usually in tonight out of necessity."

As for the pitch to Beltre, Melvin said: "You've got to throw a strike there, and good call on their side, 3-0 swing." Resop said the real problem was missing with the first three pitches against Beltre, who's "probably not a guy you want to fall behind."

Since not allowing a run in his first seven outings of the season, Resop has now allowed 12 runs in 11 2/3 innings over his last 11 outings. Opponents have scored against him in five of his last seven games.

Melvin said Resop is "just going through a bad stretch." Resop -- who said of the string of outings: "I think it's worse than rough." -- said he can't pinpoint any one thing that's not working.

"There's nothing I can sit here and say I'm doing differently," Resop said. "I'm going after guys the same way, my stuff's the same. I feel like I (went through a stretch) there where I wasn't commanding the ball, I was trying to be too fine, and now I'm not trying to do that. I feel like I'm throwing strikes and getting ahead of guys for the most part.

"So no, I really can't put a finger on it. It's one of those things, you go to sleep, you wake up, you come back out tomorrow and work hard."

* The A's, in typical A's fashion, almost got Resop off the hook in the bottom of the 10th against Nathan, whose presence on the mound made a comeback all the more unlikely. Aside from being 11-for-11 on save opportunities this season, Nathan's career ERA of 0.74 against the A's before the game was his lowest against any team, and he hadn't give up an earned run in his last 19 outings against the A's.

Nathan, though, put two runners on with walks before Seth Smith doubled to make it a one-run game. Nathan walked Brandon Moss intentionally to load the bases with one out. But Daric Barton -- now 2-for-16 since being called up -- struck out swinging. And pinch hitter Eric Sogard grounded out to Ian Kinsler on the first pitch to abruptly end the rally. The A's lost for the first time in four extra-inning games this season.

"We feel confident in our guys, especially when we're at home, that we have the ability to score at any time," said Josh Donaldson, who tied his career high with four hits but flew out leading off the 10th. "We gave ourselves a chance. We just came up a little short tonight."

* Melvin watched the ending from somewhere other than the A's dugout after being ejected by first-base umpire D.J. Reyburn arguing a close call on a Barton groundout to shortstop in the eighth. Melvin said after the game that in watching a replay it appeared Reyburn got the call right.

"I thought for sure from where I was that it looked like he was safe," Melvin said. "And it wasn't the case. I think it was very close, but it looked like he was out, and (Reyburn) got the call right. So I deserved to get thrown out."

* Melvin offered a couple of reasons for taking Colon out of the game after six innings at just 77 pitches. As mentioned, he felt comfortable turning the game over to the Doolittle-Cook-Balfour line. And leading off the seventh for Texas was Moreland, who homered off Colon in the Rangers' three-run fourth.

Other than that inning, which also included a Nelson Cruz sacrifice fly that scored Elvis Andrus for the Rangers' first run, Colon allowed just two baserunners. Both times it was Lance Berkman, and the circumstances were pretty rare both times. Berkman tripled in the sixth -- his 30th career triple in 15 seasons (he had four the previous three seasons). And in the first, Berkman reached on a walk.

It was the second walk issued this season by Colon, who had one in 41 1/3 prior innings. Even stranger, Colon finished with one walk and no strikeouts -- the first time in Colon's career he has gone more than four innings in a start without striking out a hitter, and the fifth time he has allowed at least one walk while striking out nobody in a start.

For the record, Colon said he felt he pitched well overall.

* Donaldson matched his career high with the four hits, which included two doubles off Rangers starter Derek Holland. Donaldson is now 5-for-8 in his career against Holland.

"He challenges me with the fastball, and I pride myself in being a pretty good fastball hitter," Donaldson said. "He just left a couple pitches over the plate tonight and I was able to hit them."

Melvin put Donaldson in the cleanup spot for just the third time in his career. He might think about doing it more often. Donaldson (small sample size alert) is 7-for-11 hitting fourth, with three doubles and a home run.

* Melvin said he's optimistic the A's will have Coco Crisp in the lineup for tomorrow's series finale. And the A's announced after tonight's game they optioned Michael Taylor back to Triple-A Sacramento, ostensibly clearing a roster spot for Crisp. The A's send right-hander Dan Straily to the mound against Rangers righty Alexi Ogando in the rubber match, with first pitch about 12 hours from now.

-- Matt Kawahara

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About Bay Area Baseball

Matt KawaharaMatt Kawahara was born in Sacramento and attended McClatchy High School and UC Berkeley, where he wrote for the independent student paper The Daily Californian. He graduated from Cal in 2010 and started at The Sacramento Bee as a summer intern. He joined The Bee’s sports staff in fall 2011.
Phone: (916) 321-1015.
On Twitter: @matthewkawahara.

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