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September 16, 2013
Parker's unbeaten streak ends, but A's magic number shrinks

OAKLAND -- Josh Donaldson crossed first base, turned to the middle of the diamond and raised his hands in disbelief. He had just hit a sharp grounder into a wide-open hole on the shortstop side of second base. But with Coco Crisp running on the pitch, Angels second baseman Howie Kendrick was also moving toward the bag and was able to snag Donaldson's chopper on a backhand and throw Donaldson out to end the third inning.

It was that kind of night for the A's. Jarrod Parker, who hadn't lost a decision in his last 19 starts, didn't get out of the fifth and allowed eight runs. The A's were handcuffed by C.J. Wilson until the sixth, when Derek Norris' RBI single gave them their only run. The 12-1 final marked their most lopsided loss of the season.

"We just got beat up," manager Bob Melvin said. "We didn't pitch very well, we didn't swing the bats well, and they did both. We just got beat. I don't think you take any more from it than that. Just try to move on."

The most beneficial things for the A's happened out of town. The Rangers and Indians both lost, reducing the magic number for the A's to clinch the West (now 7) and a playoff spot (now 6).

Such is the luxury of being where the A's are in the standings now as opposed to where they were at this time a year ago -- even on a night when they did little right, they moved one step closer to securing a postseason berth.

Otherwise, there wasn't much to be said Monday night's outcome, and little news that came out after the game. Yoenis Cespedes underwent an MRI on his sore right shoulder but Melvin said he hadn't yet heard back about the results.

Of Cespedes' availability for Tuesday night, Melvin said: "If he feels good, he'll play tomorrow." The same goes for shortstop Jed Lowrie, who was held out Monday with a right hamstring cramp that cropped up in Texas. Cespedes had two singles Monday off Wilson -- as many hits as the rest of the A's lineup combined.

"We would've loved to have tonight's game, but we've just got to do what we do and we control our own destiny if we win ballgames," Parker said. "Tonight I didn't really give us much chance, so I think you move on."

* Parker seemed off from the beginning, when he walked Angels leadoff man J.B. Shuck on four pitches and started the next batter, Howie Kendrick, with a 2-0 count. The eight runs allowed matched Parker's season high (also April 14 against Detroit) and he didn't complete five innings for the first time since June 29.

"Pretty terrible," Parker said. "Take nothing away from them, they swung the bats well, but there wasn't too many pitches that I executed."

Melvin said Parker, who was scratched from his regularly scheduled start Sunday with a stomach illness, "was healthy. ... He's been awfully good for a long period of time, just not his best stuff tonight."

Parker said he was throwing up Sunday and just trying to keep food down, but did feel better Monday. Asked if the illness affected him on the mound, he said: "I mean, I'm not going to put it on that or make an excuse, but, you know, whatever."

As good as Parker has been since mid-May, the Angels have given him trouble this year. In four starts against them, he has allowed 19 earned runs in 18 2/3 innings.

Parker was consistently nonchalant about his unbeaten streak while it was going on. At 19, it was the longest since Lefty Grove had 21 consecutive starts without a loss in 1931. Parker met the end with more of the same.

"I mean, it was a good run," he said. "It's one of those things where all good things come to an end. I guess if you're going to do it, you might as well just give it up and get it over with."

* Wilson, meanwhile, has a pretty impressive streak of his own going. He hasn't lost in his last 13 starts, during which he's 9-0, and he has now beaten the A's four times in five starts against them this season.

"We've seen him tough before," Melvin said. "He kept the ball down, kept it off the barrel of the bat and mixed his pitches well."

Wilson -- and Kendrick, as mentioned before -- also helped the Angels become the first team in 11 games to hold Donaldson without a hit. Donaldson had gone 18-for-40 during his career-high 11-game hitting streak. He did draw a walk in the sixth, though, and has reached base in 21 consecutive games.

* It's pretty clear that Cespedes' shoulder isn't affecting him swinging a bat. With the two hits off Wilson -- one on what looked like a routine grounder to Kendrick that Cespedes beat out -- he's now 21-for-54 in September. Of the 14 games he's played this month, Cespedes has multiple hits in nine of them.

* In back-to-back games, the A's have now shown the benefit of expanded rosters in two very different ways. Sunday they had to scratch Parker, but were able to replace him with 11-game winner Tommy Milone without scrambling their rotation. Monday, after the A's fell behind 8-0, Melvin was able to use Evan Scribner, Pedro Figueroa and Pat Neshek for the final four innings and not burn any of his back-end relievers.

* Best unintentionally funny moment of the game goes to Figueroa, on Mike Trout's two-run homer in the eighth. As it left the bat, Figueroa pointed straight up as if to help center fielder Chris Young locate a routine fly ball. The ball ended up ricocheting off a window in the suite level above the camera wells.

ESPN estimated the distance at 452 feet, Trout's fourth-longest of the season, and that it came off the bat at 107.4 mph. Melvin was asked how it compared to the longer homers he's seen at the Coliseum and said: "Probably right up there. ... He hit it a long way."

* Melvin said reliever Brett Anderson, who left Friday night's game in Texas with back spasms, was available out of the bullpen against the Angels.

* With the A's shifting their rotation back a day, Sonny Gray (3-3, 2.63) now starts game two Tuesday night against Angels right-hander Garrett Richards (7-6, 3.91). First pitch at 7:05 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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