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Oakland Athletics struggle with men in scoring position, win streak snapped

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Oakland Athletics starting pitcher Sean Manaea throws in the first inning against the Chicago White Sox in the first game of a doubleheader at Guaranteed Rate Field in Chicago on Friday, June 22, 2018. (John J. Kim/Chicago Tribune/TNS)

The Oakland Athletics saw their winning streak come to an end at six games with Friday’s 3-1 loss to the Colorado Rockies, but it wasn’t for a lack of chances.

The A’s went 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position, left 13 men on base and failed to cash in on three chances with the bases loaded in a tightly contested game at Coors Field. Denver native Kyle Freeland threw six shutout innings en route to his ninth win, working his way out of jams throughout the evening.

An error on rookie second baseman Garrett Hampson allowed Oakland (61-44) to load the bases with two outs in the first, but Matt Olson lined out. A Khris Davis walk loaded the bases with one out in the fifth, but Stephen Piscotty’s aggressiveness following the free pass backfired, leading to an around-the-horn double play.

As has often been the case since the All-Star Break, the A’s immediately surrendered runs after failing to capitalize. Charlie Blackmon doubled and came in to score on an Ian Desmond single, though Desmond was thrown out trying to stretch his hit into a double. Manaea was fortunate that Desmond tried to get greedy, as Nolan Arenado followed with his 26th homer of the year to make it 3-0.

Starter Sean Manaea was pulled for a pinch-hitter after Jonathan Lucroy doubled in the sixth. Freeland struck out that pinch-hitter, Chad Pinder, with his 110th and final pitch of the night.

Back-to-back doubles by Matt Chapman and Jed Lowrie off Bryan Shaw got the visitors on the board in the seventh, but they squandered an opportunity to tie it in the eighth. Marcus Semien walked to load the bases with two outs, but Scott Oberg froze Chapman on a slider at the knees to end the threat.

With regular closer Wade Davis overworked earlier in the week, Adam Ottavino closed the game for the Rockies, collecting his fourth save.

The A’s were able to finally give some rest to a heavily-taxed bullpen. Manaea needed just 74 pitches to make it through five innings, and escaped the first unscathed despite a Blackmon leadoff double, striking out Arenado for the second out. Colorado (55-47) pushed across the first run of the game in the second inning, with Noel Cuevas bunting for a hit and scoring on a Hampson bunt single. The Rockies bunted three times in the inning.

In addition to that effort from Manaea, the A’s got two sharp innings from J.B. Wendelken and a perfect eighth from Emilio Pagan.

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