Oakland Athletics open final road trip of first half with loss to Cleveland

A shaky start by Paul Blackburn, failure to produce with runners in scoring position and a rough night for the bullpen all added up to a 10-4 loss for the Oakland Athletics on Friday against the Cleveland Indians.

Though two of Blackburn’s three home starts were fine — the lone exception coming against the Houston Astros — he’s struggled mightily on the road, save for a game against a San Diego Padres team that has done next to nothing against right-handed pitching.

This time, in the opener of Oakland’s final true road trip of the first half (they’ll spend next weekend in San Francisco for the Bay Bridge Series), Blackburn was charged with six runs — five earned — and failed to record an out in the fifth inning.

The A’s jumped out to an early 2-0 lead, sparked by a leadoff homer by Dustin Fowler and a second-inning solo blast by Matt Olson. Fowler’s home run made for a rude welcome to Indians starter Carlos Carrasco, who was making his first start in over a month after spending time on the disabled list. He allowed seven hits over 5 1/3 innings but struck out seven without any walks.

Cleveland (49-37) took the lead in the bottom of the third inning on back-to-back doubles by Michael Brantley and Jose Ramirez, and would never relinquish it, though there were some close calls. With men on the corners in the fourth, right fielder Stephen Piscotty bounced into a double play to end inning. A Fowler RBI single cut the lead to 4-3 in the fifth, but Jed Lowrie lined out with two men on to end that frame.

After opening the lead to 6-3, the Indians would turn to a bullpen that’s struggled throughout the year and once again ran into trouble. Zach McAllister let Oakland (48-40) put two men on base in the top of the seventh, and Mark Canha’s double against Neil Ramirez scored Matt Chapman and put the tying run at second. Lowrie walked to load the bases, but Ramirez recovered to strike out Khris Davis and leave the A’s trailing by two.

Since being recalled from Triple-A in mid-May, Emilio Pagan had allowed just two runs in 17 appearances, but he would surrender four on Friday while recording just two outs. One of those runs came in on a double steal — part of a difficult night behind the plate for Jonathan Lucroy.

The A’s veteran catcher — who would have been traded to Cleveland by the Milwaukee Brewers at the 2016 trade deadline before invoking his no-trade clause and ultimately going to the Texas Rangers — allowed two other stolen bases and made a throwing error on a pickoff attempt that led to an unearned run in the second inning.

Ethan Kassel
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Ethan Kassel

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