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A's Stumble With Pitching, Hitting, Defense. Surprisingly, They Lose.

Tonight's game is best summed up, I think, by extracting just a few key details that tell the story.

* In the top of the 3rd inning, with two on and nobody out, Erick Aybar lay down a sacrifice bunt and Kouzmanoff, who had a sure out at 1B if he fielded it, decided to let the ball roll foul. It didn't.

* In the top of the 6th inning, with Dallas Braden trailing 2-0 and runners at the corners, Braden threw a changeup that might have bounced had Robb Quinlan not hit a chip shot onto the green -- that would be the outfield grass in shallow CF -- to make it 3-0. It was a great pitch and with the switch-hitting Erick Aybar due up, Howie Kendrick on deck, and Braden at 92 pitches, I can't really think of why you wouldn't just go ahead and let Braden face one more hitter instead of calling on Brad Ziegler, whose performance against left-handed hitters has been getting steadily (and alarmingly) worse over the last few weeks -- and it was never that great to begin with. But Ziggy got the call, Aybar blasted a two-run triple high off the wall, and the rout was on.

* In the bottom of the 7th inning, with the A's trailing 5-0 they had their shot against Joe Saunders as Kouzmanoff singled and Rosales walked. It took Saunders exactly 2 pitches to get out of the inning: a Sweeney first-pitch 6-4-3 DP and a Fox first-pitch bouncer to 2B.

* In the top of the 8th inning, Juan Rivera hit a long drive to CF that sent Matt Carson racing back all the way to the wall. He caught it. The wall, that is, face first. Ouch. Oh, the ball was over the fence.

The rest of the league seems to enjoy Joe Saunders just fine. Saunders, when pitching against anyone else, sports a 5.49 ERA in 2010. Against the A's this year? 18 IP, 1 ER, and a pair of complete game wins.