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Loved The Book, Hated The Ending

Well, tonight was one of those rare games that lives up to every bit of its billing (and one that made me sort of wish that more Bay Area locals would be drawn to the amazing sporting event they had going on in their backyard tonight), and even though the A’s fell just short of the win, it really was a great game.

I’ll be honest, I never thought I’d actually see the day where our Rich Harden was listed in a pitching preview as an elite pitcher at the end of May, but he was not only billed as such tonight; he backed it up, throwing seven excellent innings, allowing one run on five hits, striking out five and walking no one. The only run he allowed came on a single in the top of the third, where he also worked out of a jam to end the inning without further damage.

Most days, this would be enough for the easy win, but the second half of the pitching duel tonight, Roy Halladay, was equally fantastic, and pitched one more inning than Harden. Halladay threw eight innings, allowing eight hits, and only one run.

The A’s put that run on the board in the third, with a two out double by Crosby and a single by Cust, but that was all they could manage against Halladay and later B.J. Ryan. They did waste a golden opportunity to take the lead in the bottom of the sixth, with Sweeney, R at second and Cust at third, but RBI-machine Emil hit a check swing to Overbay and he threw out Cust at home. To add insult to injury, Alex Rios followed that up with a nice catch of Ellis’ bid for an RBI double. They would not score again.

The A’s were not without their own defense tonight (minus another error by Barton), as Suzuki threw two runners out at second, but as well as they played, they simply could not get that second run from their offense. With Street unavailable tonight, they were left to depend on Foulke to close the ninth after Gaudin was used for an inning of relief in the eighth. Foulke walked the leadoff hitter (not a good start), and gave up the RBI double to Alex Rios that broke the tie and gave the Blue Jays the win.

On the injury side of things, I’m still hearing ‘day to day’ with Frank Thomas, and Sweeney, R left the game for x-rays after fouling a ball off his foot. And in the good news department, yes, the Angels finally lost a game, so the A's remain two games back.

But the five-game winning streak has been broken, and the A’s must start over tomorrow, as the A’s and Jays finish the series at 12:35 P.M., Litsch vs. Eveland.