A's spoil Trachsel's return to mound

A's spoil Trachsel's return to mound

OAKLAND -- Steve Trachsel looked none the worse for wear and none the better for rest in his return from the disabled list Saturday night, providing mixed results even by his own modest standards.

Baltimore's starter had missed two weeks with a strained gluteus and demonstrated that he was healthy, but still got knocked around, allowing nine hits and four earned runs in a 4-3 loss to the A's.

When asked to clarify his expectations for his own night at the office, Trachsel provided a pithy response.

"Win. That's all that mattered," he said in the moments after the loss. "I felt fine. I wasn't tired."

Trachsel said after the game that he would've liked to keep pitching, but interim manager Dave Trembley made it clear that he made the move that he thought gave his team its best chance to win.

"I thought it was the right time for him to come out of the game," he said. "I don't ask guys whether they want to stay in the game. I thought it was the right time for him to come out."

Tired or not, Trachsel (5-7) has allowed at least four earned runs in five straight starts, swelling his ERA by more than a run (from 3.82 to 5.05). The numbers add up to an 0-3 record and a 9.13 ERA in his last five outings.

The damage could've been even worse Saturday, but the veteran was able to end two rallies with warning-track outs. Oakland had two or more runners on base in four of his five full innings, and Trachsel left with a man on second in the sixth.

"They manufactured three runs and hit a solo homer," he said. "I thought I pitched better than the numbers."

"He probably didn't have as good a command, but he pitches," added Trembley, who fell to 14-13 as field boss. "He makes big pitches when he has to. He stayed away from the big inning in the first and he kept us right in it."

Baltimore (43-53) took the game's first lead by scoring two runs in the top of the first inning -- both on a double by Kevin Millar -- but the A's scratched right back with two runs in the bottom half. Oakland (46-51) seized control with a sacrifice fly in the fourth inning and a solo home run by Jack Cust in the fifth, and Trachsel left with his team trailing by two runs.

"Eighty-five pitches. I had plenty left," he said. "If I'm tired after 85, something's wrong."

The Orioles fought back against Dan Haren, the league's ERA leader, but fell just shy of tying the game in the seventh inning. Leadoff hitter Brian Roberts was called out on a disputed third strike with two men on base, and Corey Patterson brought the O's within one run with a two-out single. After that, reliever Santiago Casilla got Nick Markakis to ground out.

"I don't need to see the replay," Roberts said. "I've seen enough pitches in my lifetime."

Haren (11-3) improved to 9-0 with a 2.76 ERA against teams from outside his division, and the Orioles dropped to 9-20 in one-run games. Oakland's starter stranded three runners in scoring position -- and two of them were at third base.

"That's kind of the way he is," Roberts said. "When he gets guys on, he's tough because he goes to the split a lot more. That split's as good as it gets. I'm sure if you watch him pitch, he gives up hits without men on base. ... That's how you have an ERA like that. He pitches well and gets guys out with men on base. I don't necessarily think it was us.

"It was certainly us not coming up with the hits, but it's a good pitcher doing what he's done all year."

Oakland threatened to break the game open in the seventh, but John Parrish got a bases-loaded double play to erase the threat. Baltimore pushed the potential tying run to second base in both the eighth and ninth innings but fell short of tying the game. Oakland reliever Alan Embree got Corey Patterson to pop out to end the game, earning his 10th save.

"We were playing to win -- we weren't playing to tie. Especially on the road," Trembley said. "That's why we were running the bases the way we were running the bases. We got a big double-play ball by Parrish and he was walking a fine line. Rob Bell came in and gave us a chance so we could come up in the ninth and maybe do something there.

"By no means do we feel sorry for ourselves. We compete until the last out is made."

Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.