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A’s drop fifth in a row as they fall to Pirates 5-4

At least it was close?

MLB: Oakland Athletics at Pittsburgh Pirates Scott Galvin-USA TODAY Sports

Oakland continues to stumble. The A’s lost a close one against a surprising Pirates team 5-4 and continued to look lost as a group on the whole.

The A’s gave their starter JP Sears a quick lead right away. Who else but Esteury? Ruiz came in on a Ryan Noda bloop single in the first inning to give Oakland a quick lead:

That gave Sears a little breathing room but he really tested that with two walks in his first frame. Luckily JJ Bleday gave him a helping hand and he gave Oakland a shutdown inning:

Still, Sears’ pitch count was really up there (61) after only two innings. Everyone knew it would be a short start for the lefty after he’d thrown that many pitches over just two frames.

But the offense came through! A Noda walk and Rooker HBP put an insurance run in scoring position. Seth Brown made sure to cash that in with an RBI double (!) and Carlos Perez brought in Oakland’s third run with a sac fly. 3-0 A’s

The best thing from tonight’s game though was easily Sears’ performance. Though he’d gotten his pitch count up early, he buckled down. The left-hander didn’t have his best stuff tonight but powered through, giving Oakland a solid chance at their 13th win.

-Sears: 4 23 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 5 BB, 6 K, 112 pitches

A career high pitch count for Sears, but a better effort from Jace Peterson on a play could have gotten Sears to have qualified for a win. Ugh. Still, that’s four straight solid starts for him as he lowered his season ERA to a decent 4.20. I think we’re all seeing him grow before our eyes and it’s encouraging considering how the rest of the young arms are doing. Who thought he would be the one to do that in spring?

Lucas Erceg finished off the fifth for Sears but things unraveled after that. Richard Lovelady faced three batters but walked two, then Shintaro Fujinami came on. Uh oh. One of the most hyped signings from the offseason came on with a 3-1 lead with the bases loaded and finished the frame with Oakland down a run. He was a starter at the beginning of the year but now you have to wonder where the team can even use him?

We got a little bit of drama in the seventh when Noda took a called strike three call that ended the inning. Mark Kotsay argued on his behalf and got ejected for it. FWIW, it was borderline, but the A’s just aren’t getting those calls this year.

But hope wasn’t done yet! Brent Rooker worked a leadoff walk in the eighth and scored on a pinch-hit RBI double from Aledmys Diaz!

This game was tied.

A HBP and walk loaded the bases for Oakland but Peterson struck out to end the threat. Still, the A’s had drawn even with the playoff contending Pirates.

Alas, it was not meant to be. Ruiz led off the ninth with a single but got a rare caught stealing second thanks to a perfect throw from the Pittsburg catcher. A Noda double and Rooker single put the tying run in scoring position but it was just not meant to be today as the A’s dropped their fifth straight. And the misery doesn’t stop there:

Man, it’s hard to watch this team blow a lead late. They were up 3 runs in the middle innings and just could not hold on. At least they threatened late and were right there until the very end. They now stand at 12-50. That physically hurts to look at.

They’ll be looking for win #13 tomorrow as James Kaprielian takes on another stud in Mitch Keller. Keller has been great this year for Pittsburgh so Kap really needs to be on his game.