A’s Fail to Cash In, Lose to Tigers

BY PAUL GACKLE OAKLAND — A hot-spring day in Oakland felt like October as the Detroit Tigers topped the A’s 5-4 at O.co Coliseum on Thursday.

The A’s failed to cash-in on several opportunities in the final contest of a four-game set with the Tigers, leaving 14 runners on base and going 2-for-13 with runners in scoring position, triggering memories of the team’s shortcomings in playoffs over the last two years.

“We had plenty of opportunities today,” Manager Bob Melvin said. “We had some situational at bats where we didn’t come through.”

The first bungle came in the second inning when the A’s loaded the bases with no outs but failed to score after Eric Sogard hit into an unconventional 1-2-3 double play and Coco Crisp bounced out to first.

The A’s botched another scoring chance in the fifth when they put runners on the corners with no outs before Josh Donaldson struck out, Brandon Moss popped out and Yoenis Cespedes was robbed of a hit by a diving J.D. Martinez in left field.

“That’s the game of baseball,” starter Jesse Chavez said, referring to the A’s missed opportunities. “That’s going to happen and, unfortunately, today we didn’t get that big hit.”

Tigers starting pitcher Rick Porcello tried to lend the A’s a hand in the sixth, walking Nick Punto and Coco Crisp and hitting Eric Sogard with a pitch to fill the bases with two outs. But pinch hitter Derek Norris popped up to first, leaving three more runners on base.

The A’s collected nine walks and nine hits in the contest.

The Tigers opened the scoring in the third when Ian Kinsler doubled off Chavez and Miguel Cabrera brought him in on a fielder’s choice.

The A’s jumped ahead 2-1 in the fourth when Nick Punto hit his first home run in an A’s uniform with Alberto Callaspo aboard, but the Tigers responded with two runs in the top of the fifth and they added two crucial insurance runs in the seventh off former-closer Jim Johnson, taking a 5-2 lead.

Johnson is now 0-2 with a 14.04 ERA at home this season. Once again, he was booed as he walked off the mound at the Coliseum.

Melvin said he’s uncertain about what Johnson’s role in bullpen will be going forward.

“We’ll continue to try to find a good spot for him and get him going,” he said.

Chavez (4-3) continued his May backslide, surrendering three earned runs on eight hits in six innings of work. After a dazzling April in which he went 2-0 with a 1.89 ERA, Chavez’s numbers are starting to even out. He posted a 2-3 record with a 3.90 ERA in May, giving up eight hits in each of his last two starts.

But the A’s made things interesting in the ninth, scoring two runs off doubles from Donaldson and Josh Reddick and a single by Cespedes. They put to go-ahead run on base with two outs, but Jed Lowrie grounded out to first to end the game.

The A’s return to action at O.co Coliseum on Friday taking on the second-place Los Angeles Angels, who have closed the gap in the American League West standings to two games.

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