The A's inability to capitalize on an uninspiring effort by Randy Wolf did them in tonight in a 3-2 loss to the Dodgers.
Wasted was another fine outing by Vin Mazzaro, his fourth straight solid start since being called up on June 2. Mazzaro escaped a one-out, bases-loaded jam in the second, thanks to a leaping, back-handed catch by Orlando Cabrera off the bat of Russell Martin that saved two runs.
The A's struck first in the third inning. Bobby Crosby worked a lead-off walk, and one out later was sacrificed to second by Mazzaro, the young hurler's third successful bunt in two games. As he did to start off the game, LA starter Randy Wolf issued a free pass to Adam Kennedy, bringing up Kurt Suzuki, who doubled to score Crosby for a 1-0 lead. The damage was limited to a lone run when Jack Cust struck out looking for the second time.
Mazzaro gave it back in the bottom half, allowing the first homerun of his career, a shot to center by Orlando Hudson with two outs.
Oakland wasted a lead-off double by Matt Holliday in the fourth. Jason Giambi went the worse-case scenario route, making an out without advancing the runner. Andre Ethier made a nice grab over the railing in foul territory to retire Cabrera, and Crosby hit a first-pitch grounder to third as the Wolf worked out of danger once more. It wouldn't be the last time.
Mazzaro breezed through a 1-2-3 fourth, retiring the side on balls that never left the infield.
Again the A's got a runner as far as second, as Rajai Davis opened the fifth with a base hit and moved up ninety feet on another sacrifice bunt by Mazzaro. But Wolf induced a pair of ground balls from Kennedy and Suzuki to end the threat.
The fine glove work by Cabrera in the second inning to rob Russell Martin was undone three frames later, and it cost Mazzaro a chance at the win. His double-clutch allowed Martin to reach first base, and Wolf made like his mound adversary by bunting the runner to second. Juan Pierre singled home Martin as Davis appeared to take a nonchalant approach after gloving the ball (said Nico later that he may have been confused by the absence of a cut-off man). Suzuki alertly charged Davis' throw (which wasn't going to get the runner regardless), fielding it near the mound, and firing an off-balance strike to gun down Pierre at second. Just a fantastic play by the A's backstop.
Jack Cust jumped on Wolf's first pitch in the sixth for a base hit and was forced at second by Holliday, who moved up a bag on a base on balls to Giambi. But Wolf worked one last bit of magic before calling it a night, getting Cabrera to ground into an around-the-horn, rally-killing double play.
Wolf was effective if nothing else, leaving after six innings having allowed a run on five hits and four walks, while striking out three.
A Rajai Run evened things up in the seventh off reliever Corey Wade. With one out the centerfielder was plunked by a pitch. Mazzaro's evening (6IP, 5H, 2R, 1BB, 5K) ended when he was pulled for pinch-hitting Nomar Garciaparra who lifted a fly ball that dropped in front of Pierre near the left-field foul line. Davis was running the whole way- at first it appeared he missed the bag at third- and scored standing up to tie the game at two, while the throw went to second base.
It took only four batters for this thing to lose its "new game" smell.
First baseman James Loney hit a one-out ground rule double off Brad Ziegler, who followed that up by walking Martin, and allowing a tie-breaking base hit to pinch-hitter Mark Loretta.
Save for a one-out single by Cabrera in the ninth, the A's went down meekly after that, and Ryan Sweeney- fresh off the disabled list- put us out of our misery by hitting into a game-ending double play.
On to San Diego for three.