OAKLAND, Calif. — The Cleveland Indians liked their chances when they got Oakland starter A.J. Griffin out of the game after five innings and 104 pitches only down a run.
Producing against a deep, talented bullpen proved much more difficult.
A night of missed opportunities throughout the lineup cost Cleveland in a 3-2 loss to the Athletics on Friday night, the first win by Oakland in five chances facing the Indians this season.
“We couldn’t catch a break,” losing pitcher Justin Masterson said. “We were getting some good at-bats. We got guys on, we weren’t able to get that extra one.”
Yoenis Cespedes hit a two-run homer against Masterson in the first, and Eric Sogard delivered a go-ahead double with two out in the seventh.
Former A’s fan favorite Nick Swisher tied the game at 2 in the top of the seventh with an RBI single, and winner Sean Doolittle (4-4) walked the bases loaded before getting out of it with only the one run. Swisher, booed at every chance, grounded out with runners on first and second to end the eighth.
Cleveland still had chances in the ninth.
Grant Balfour allowed a one-out walk to Carlos Santana and Michael Brantley’s single before Asdrubal Cabrera lined into a game-ending double play as the A’s held on and Balfour earned his 31st save.
Masterson (13-9), Cleveland’s All-Star right-hander, lost consecutive decisions for just the second time this season. He allowed three runs on seven hits in 7 2-3 innings after coming off his shortest outing of the year, 4 1-3 innings in which he allowed five runs and seven hits against the Angels.
He is still looking for his first victory in the Oakland Coliseum. He dropped to 0-5 with a 7.71 ERA in six appearances and five starts.
He outpitched Griffin, who escaped a bases-loaded jam in the fifth but his pitch count climbed in a hurry.
“That many pitches in five innings and you’re feeling good about yourself,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “But when you get to the bullpen, this is one of the few teams who can run some pretty good guys out there.”
The A’s held on in their home ballpark after being swept in a four-game series in Cleveland from May 6-9, being outscored 21-8. In the third game of the series, Adam Rosales was denied a ninth-inning home run and given a double by the umpires in a 4-3 A’s loss — even after going to replay. Major League Baseball the next day said the umpires made an “improper call,” but executive vice president Joe Torre said the “judgment” decision is final.
Griffin and Masterson matched up in that one, too.
“The biggest thing is getting ahead with these guys,” Masterson said. “That’s what they want, to work the count in their favor.”
On Friday, the Indians got on the board in the third on Santana’s single to right. Gold Glove right fielder Josh Reddick wildly overthrew third baseman Josh Donaldson trying to get Swisher. The ball hit the facing of the Oakland dugout and bounced back onto the field, where Donaldson grabbed it and threw home not knowing the play was dead and Swisher would score. Meanwhile, Griffin went sliding into the dirt on his knees apparently thinking he could stop the ball from reaching the dugout.
Reddick made a nice reaching catch at the warning track on a hard hit ball by Michael Bourn in the fifth to rob him of an extra-base hit, then Cespedes chased down a drive by Brantley for the third out of the inning as the Indians left the bases loaded.
Cabrera is in an 0-for-20 stretch, and he hit the ball on that liner to end the game.
“Sometimes they just catch it. That’s what happened to me,” he said.
NOTES: The Indians matched a season high by stranding 13 baserunners. ... Indians RHP Corey Kluber, on the 15-day disabled list with a sprained right middle finger, played catch from 90 feet in right field before the game. He will extend out to 120 feet today. “He’s kind of flying through this,” Francona said. ... Cleveland RHP Carlos Carrasco has been moved to the bullpen for now. He allowed 10 hits and four earned runs in 4 1-3 innings Wednesday at Minnesota. Recalled last Friday from Triple-A Columbus, he is winless in seven starts this year and hasn’t won since June 29, 2011, at Arizona. ... Francona on Cleveland reserve Jason Giambi, former A’s slugger: “He’s been a blessing to all of us here. There’s some wear and tear on those tires, he’s got some miles on them. But he’s still a presence in the batter’s box.” ... Indians RHP Brett Myers, out since April 20 with right elbow inflammation, threw his fourth bullpen and is set for a simulated game Sunday at Double-A Akron.