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A’s defense does not support Jharel Cotton in 7-2 defeat to White Sox

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Jharel Cotton, seen here in May, lost to the Chicago White Sox on Monday. (Jacob C. Palmer/S.F. Examiner)

OAKLAND — Jharel Cotton allowed four earned runs Monday night against the Chicago White Sox. Chicago hit four doubles and roped a number of poorly located pitches, so the end tally seemed reasonable.

But the Oakland Athletics defense certainly didn’t help him in their 7-2 loss. While Cotton labored through five innings, he also watched three balls ricochet off gloves.

With two outs in the second inning, second baseman Franklin Barreto couldn’t handle a sharp ground ball, deflecting it into right field. Todd Frazier scored on the play.

In the third, shortstop Adam Rosales, ranging to his left to cover a steal attempt at second base, was unable to reverse his course to snag a one-out line drive. Two batters later, Frazier drove a two-run double into the corner and advanced to third on a dropped relay from Rosales, one of two errors from the infielder.

“Two-out hits kind of sap the momentum from you,” Bob Melvin said. “You get to the point where you’re one out away from getting out of the inning, and they score some runs and it’s a little bit of a different feeling once you get into the dugout.”

The defensive struggles were a frustrating – if not unfamiliar – sight for Cotton. Oakland leads baseball in errors, and the right-hander has been tagged for eight unearned runs this season.

He finished with seven hits and two walks allowed in five innings of work. Each of the four runs the White Sox scored against him were earned – despite the suspect performance behind him.

“His stuff was good,” Melvin said. “He gave up a couple of runs in the early innings and got better as he went along.”

A reprieve from Oakland’s defensive struggles might not arrive this campaign, but the reinstatement of third baseman Matt Chapman from the disabled list was a bright spot in the defeat.

In the second inning, Chapman waited back on a high chopper before making a strong throw across the diamond to nab Matt Davidson. In the fourth, he charged a bunt from second baseman Yolmer Sanchez. His throw again darted to first base in time.

Aside from a two-run second, Oakland’s lineup struggled to produce against left-hander Carlos Rodón. The southpaw struck out 10 batters in 6.1 innings of work.

However, the Athletics received an opportunity to tie the game in the seventh when Sanchez miffed a potential double play turn to put two on with one out. But Chapman struck out to end the threat.

Chicago pulled away in the eighth. The White Sox scored twice to take a four-run lead, capitalizing on a mishandled grounder by first baseman Yonder Alonso that turned into an RBI double.

It was a frustrating conclusion to Oakland’s sixth consecutive defeat. In front of a crowd of 40,019 — the largest at the Coliseum since 2005 — Melvin hoped the Athletics could put on a show. Instead, they delivered a clunker.

“We just gave them nothing to root for,” Melvin said.

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