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June 29, 2013
Parker exits A's 7-1 loss with right hamstring tightness

OAKLAND -- Jarrod Parker was somewhat subdued but said, "I don't think so," when asked if he was concerned about his status going forward after the right-hander left the A's 7-1 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals on Saturday with right hamstring tightness. Parker went down grabbing at his hamstring after throwing a pitch to Allen Craig in the fourth inning. He was stretched out by a trainer on the field and threw several practice pitches before coming out of the game.

Manager Bob Melvin said the A's are hoping it's just a cramp and nothing that would keep Parker from making his next start, but they won't know more until they see how Parker feels tomorrow.

"If everything feels OK tomorrow, we'll see how he feels in his (next bullpen session) and then proceed from there," Melvin said. "But you know a lot more tomorrow."

Parker said he was "sore" after the game but hadn't undergone any tests or done anything beyond "normal stuff" treatment-wise.

"I think it's just tight and we'll be able to assess it in the coming days," Parker said. "It was something where I just threw the pitch and it just kind of got tight on me."

Melvin said Parker floated the idea of staying in to finish the inning, "but he still felt it, and it's not a prudent thing to do. The unfortunate thing was that might have been as good of stuff as he's had all year."

Parker had retired 11 of the first 12 hitters he faced Saturday, allowing only a two-out single to Daniel Descalso in the third, and appeared well on the way to continuing his string of good outings over the last month. Parker entered the game 4-0 with a 2.34 ERA in his previous six starts.

"He looked unbelievable," reliever Jesse Chavez said. "I talked to him today and said this is the best you've looked. He's been better and better each time out."

"Yeah, it sucks," Parker said. "I think I've just been building on outings prior and today everything was working good early. I was able to establish the fastball in and out. It was just unfortunate."

Melvin declined to go so far as to call it an "injury" to Parker. "Every cramp is a slight strain," he said. "Based on hydration we're hoping that's what it is." Parker said he had not felt any discomfort in the hamstring before the pitch to Craig and felt it was the right decision to come out of the game for precautionary reasons.

After his departure, the Cardinals struck for six runs in the fifth and sixth innings against the A's bullpen. The A's, meanwhile, didn't get a runner past first base until the eighth against Cardinals right-hander Adam Wainwright, who threw his fourth complete game of the season and recorded his 11th win, tied for the National League lead.

"We might have been here a while had (Parker's hamstring) not happened," Melvin said.

Parker, told of the comment, grinned: "We both might've got out with no-decisions. Who knows?" he said. "But it is what it is."

* Parker's abrupt exit led to an impromptu appearance by Chavez, who retired Matt Holliday to end the fourth but wound up allowing four runs in 1 1/3 innings. Chavez walked Matt Adams and hit David Freese to start the fifth inning and both later scored. After putting the first two Cardinals on again in the sixth, he gave way to Jerry Blevins, who gave up an RBI single to Matt Holliday and a three-run homer to Adams.

Chavez, a hero of the A's 18-inning win over New York on June 13 for his 5 2/3 innings of scoreless relief, has allowed runs in three of his four appearances since. Melvin said he would chalk that up to "just the command, maybe. ... His stuff, the velocity's still there, still decent movement on his pitches. Maybe (it's) some of the location on the pitches he's getting hit."

Chavez said after his outing he went back into the clubhouse to watch video and found a mechanical "tic that threw me out of rhythm today." He said he hasn't had a good feel for his changeup recently -- "a pitch I need to have to work off my two-seamer" -- and that he hopes the mechanical tweak will address that. He didn't put blame for Saturday's outing on his abrupt entrance.

"That's the life of the bullpen," Chavez said. "I still have to do my job."

* Blevins was also pretty straightforward about the pitch to Adams: "Just a mistake," he said. "I left it up and a little bit over the middle. Wanted to get it down and away. Bad pitch and he hit it well."

It figured that Blevins would be warming up ahead of Adams, a left-handed hitter. That he entered a batter earlier to face the right-handed Holliday might have seemed an odd matchup, though a few factors supported the move -- Chavez had allowed back-to-back hits, Holliday had already seen Chavez once, Blevins has been tougher on right-handed hitters this season (.194 average) than lefties (.260), and Holliday has slightly better numbers against right-handed pitching throughout his career anyway.

Two of the three home runs Blevins have allowed this season have come in his last three outings. He has been a workhorse in the first half -- his 37 appearances in the A's first 82 games leads the team, one ahead of Sean Doolittle. While he hasn't allowed a run in 10 of his 13 outings in June, Blevins has seen his ERA hop from 1.82 on May 31 to 3.12. But he said he isn't feeling any signs of fatigue heading into the All-Star break.

"No, my arm feels great," Blevins said. "Body feels great. Just a bad pitch (today). Can't happen."

* Not a banner day for the A's lineup, but an encouraging one for Derek Norris, who got the start at catcher against a tough right-hander in Wainwright -- riding a 4-for-39 slump and playing in his first game since June 23 -- and had two singles. Norris also hit a ball hard in his third at-bat against Wainwright but right at center fielder Jon Jay in the air.

The tough part for Norris -- he might not get another start until July 4, next Thursday, when the A's face their next left-hander in the Cubs' Travis Wood. Melvin said John Jaso is getting closer to being able to catch a full game, and Stephen Vogt still offers another left-handed-hitting option until the A's need to recall Dan Straily for a fifth starter.

That wasn't thought to be necessary until July 5 or 6, though there's a little more uncertainty now after Parker's departure Saturday. As Melvin said, the A's will likely know more tomorrow. It's Tommy Milone (6-7, 4.06) against Jake Westbrook (4-2, 2.21) in the series finale, with first pitch set for 1:05 p.m.

-- 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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