OAKLAND -- The really infuriating thing about Wei-Yin Chen from the A's point of view is that there is nothing really infuriating about him.
He throws some nice pitches, to be sure, but the left-hander's dominance of the A's -- one run in 202/3 career innings -- isn't easily explainable.
"It was nothing special," third baseman Josh Donaldson said in the wake of the A's 3-0 loss to the Orioles on Friday night. "We hit some balls hard. Jed (Lowrie) hit one to the wall. I hit one good. There were some others. We just didn't do enough."
Donaldson was talking a little out of frustration, because this isn't the first time something like this has happened. Six times in the first 24 games, or one-quarter of the time, the A's have been held to three hits, as was the case Friday. It hasn't all been Chen.
And then there was Lowrie, who was at second base for the first time this season and had one of the A's hits, a double down the left field line in the ninth inning.
"He was good enough to go eight innings and give up two hits," Lowrie said. "He located the fastball well and some off-speed pitches. We're frustrated. We're better than this.
"We're not playing with a whole lot of energy right now."
The A's have, in fact, lost seven of eight since starting the season 12-4. Oakland is still over .500 (13-11) thanks to its fast start, but the flavor in the clubhouse has turned a little sour.
What Chen was able to do was to work both side of the plate, keep the ball down, and keep the A's from getting any sense that good things were about to happen.
And the Orioles needed that, because A's starter Tommy Milone was good, too. He threw zero after zero for six innings, then when he gave up a run in the seventh, it was only after an unexpected error from Gold Glove right fielder Josh Reddick.
"We knew it was going to be a tough night," Baltimore catcher Matt Wieters said. "(Milone) was hitting all of his spots. We knew he was going to be tough, especially on a cold night here in Oakland."
Milone, who took his first loss his last time out by falling behind early in St. Petersburg against the Rays, was in decidedly better command this time around. So the Orioles were going nowhere, too, until the seventh. J.J. Hardy opened with a single, then took second when Reddick slipped while fielding the ball. Steve Pearce's one-out single was good enough to bring Hardy home with the only run Milone would give up.
"A game like this definitely gives you some confidence," Milone said. "But Chen, I was trying to keep up with him throwing all those zeros. I had to try to do the same thing. He did a great job."
Milone did his job, but there's not much to be done for an offense that isn't scoring. You wouldn't think you could say that about an offense that came in leading the A.L. in scoring, but much of that was crammed into the first dozen games.
And in the last eight games Oakland has scored three runs once, two runs once, one run once and no runs twice. That's hardly the stuff of offensive legend.
"We scored a lot early, and now we've hit a bit of a dry spell," manager Bob Melvin said. "We're still at the top of the league in scoring runs. In some games we've fallen short. We've got to find some consistency.
"We've got to fight our way out of it."