The Orioles were hoping that a change of scenery would help them pull out of another long losing streak, but even a change of strategy at the spacious Oakland Coliseum did not do the trick.
They played small ball and scored two runs on sacrifice bunts in the second inning, but the offense fizzled after that and the Athletics took advantage of some sloppy defense to score a 3-2 victory and send the Orioles to their sixth straight defeat.
Oakland starting pitcher Mike Fiers, who was not charged with an earned run during that early O’s rally because the A’s played some ugly defense of their own, didn’t leave anything to chance after that. He retired 17 batters in a row from the second to the seventh inning on the way to his seventh win.
Still, that early O’s rally was a display of initiative that obviously caught the A’s by surprise. Designated hitter Pedro Severino opened the inning with a single off Fiers, and Rio Ruiz followed with a perfect bunt down the third-base line.
And that’s when things got weird.Third baseman Matt Chapman charged the Ruiz bunt and threw the ball so far down the right-field line that Severino scored from first base and Ruiz sprinted all the way to third. Two pitches later, Hanser Alberto laid another perfect bunt down the third-base line and Ruiz scored to give the O’s a 2-1 lead.
If that seemed like a couple of pennies from heaven for the struggling Orioles, they threw them right back in the bottom of the third inning.
Orioles starter Andrew Cashner, returning to the mound Monday night after a short layoff with a blister on his right middle finger, hit No. 9 batter Josh Phegley with a pitch and walked leadoff man Marcus Semien before giving up an infield single to load the bases with no one out.
It was a precarious situation, but Cashner put himself in a position to pull a great escape. He got first baseman Matt Olson to hit a routine bouncer to third that was fielded by Ruiz, who fired the ball home for what looked like the front end of a potential double play.
Instead, it quickly turned into another big defensive blunder when catcher Chance Sisco bounced the relay to first base past Chris Davis and into right field, allowing the tying run to score and Chapman to — apparently — run himself into an out at the plate trying to come home from second.
Davis retrieved the ball and made a strong throw that appeared to be in plenty of time to beat the runner, and Chapman was initially called out on the play, but the A’s challenged and the video replay showed that he slid right under the glove and touched the plate.
Cashner settled down nicely and worked through six innings, allowing just four hits and one earned run, but it still sent him to his third loss of the season.Fiers worked 6 2/3 innings and allowed just three hits to improve his record to 7-3 and drop his ERA to 4.28.The series continues on Tuesday with Orioles right-hander Gabriel Ynoa (0-3) facing A’s left-hander Brett Anderson (6-4).