DETROIT -- The A's don't have the best record in the Major Leagues because of a soft schedule. And Tuesday's 3-0 loss to the Tigers is perhaps evidence of just how grueling the Oakland first half has been.

The A's have been on the road for 44 of their first 83 games. Only Cleveland, at 45, has been away from home more in the American League. Oakland's series finale in Detroit on Wednesday will bring to a close a fifth consecutive three-city trip.

So while tipping his cap to Tigers starter Rick Porcello, who was simply dazzling with a 95-pitch, no-walk, no-strikeout performance, Oakland manager Bob Melvin said the lineup for Wednesday would reflect the reality of the schedule.

DETROIT, MI - JULY 01:  Rick Porcello #21 of the Detroit Tigers pitches in the first inning of the game against the Oakland Athletics at Comerica Park on
DETROIT, MI - JULY 01: Rick Porcello #21 of the Detroit Tigers pitches in the first inning of the game against the Oakland Athletics at Comerica Park on July 1, 2014 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images) ( Leon Halip )

"We're dragging a little bit," Melvin said. "This is what, our fifth three-city road trip in a row? At times we've been a little bit out of gas at the end. We have a lot of guys who have played a lot of innings and so the lineup might look a little different tomorrow."

The A's had just four hits off Porcello, now 11-4 after back-to-back shutouts, the first two of his career. Two of the hits, a double in the second and a single in the seventh, came from Jed Lowrie.

"He did such a good job of keeping guys off balance, mixing pitches, mixing locations and being aggressive,'' Lowrie said. "That was the biggest thing, especially once we got down. He didn't start nibbling. He actually got more aggressive with his fastball. And he got us behind a lot that gave him more freedom to work the other pitches.''


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The A's shortstop also saw eye-to-eye with his manager about the difficulty of 10- and 11- day trips the A's have endured.

"Yeah, we're not robots," he said. "When you put as many miles as we have on in the first half, and especially when you are talking about these East Coast three-city road trips, it starts to grind on you a little bit.

"That's the hand we've been dealt. I don't think anybody uses it as an excuse. Today we faced a guy who was pitching with a lot of momentum and a lot of confidence, and he executed."

Lowrie doubled in the second and singled in the seventh. Stephen Vogt singled in the fifth, and Craig Gentry singled in the eighth. Never did the A's get a leadoff man on. Never did they work Porcello for a walk. The right-hander, who shut out Texas on three hits in his previous start and threw six shutout innings the start before that, is in the groove to which all pitchers aspire.

"That's a good ballclub," Porcello said of the A's. "I feel good pitching six innings, three runs against that team. They can swing the bats, they've got speed, they've got some power. That's one of the better offenses we've seen."

And he dominated the A's. Oakland never came close to anything resembling a rally. It was Porcello's doing, to be sure, but it was also the next-to-last day of a long grind. Hence the talk of lineup changes.

Derek Norris, who has missed most of the last week with back issues, is likely to be in Wednesday's finale behind the plate. Yoenis Cespedes, who missed Tuesday because of hamstring tightness, might be the D.H. There's a chance that Nate Freiman, who homered in his only start since being promoted, will get a crack at first base.

The Tigers are starting Jason Verlander, who has had a tough year but who has been the dominant pitcher against the A's in the last two American League Division Series.

So it does not get easier.

  • The A's have no three-city trips after this and don't play more than seven games in succession away from the Coliseum the rest of the season.

  • Tuesday's game was competed in 2 hours, 13 minutes. It was the A's fastest game of the season.

  • Starting pitcher Scott Kazmir, who came out of Monday's start with a leg cramp, reported to Comerica Park feeling fine and is expected to make his next start this weekend against the Blue Jays.

  • Drew Pomeranz, who took himself out of the A's rotation by fracturing his right hand hitting a chair after his start on June 16, has been throwing regularly and made another advance during Tuesday's throwing session back in the Bay Area. He put his glove on his fractured right hand while throwing. He didn't catch the ball, but he's evidently getting closer to being able to do that.

  • Kyle Blanks, on the disabled list with a strained left calf, has been able to do most baseball work, but the first baseman is still inhibited by the calf problem when he runs, Melvin said.

    For more on the A's, see John Hickey's Inside the A's blog at ibabuzz.com/athletics.

    WEDNESDAY'S GAME

    A's (Jesse Chavez 6-4) at Detroit
    (Justin Verlander 6-7), 10:08 a.m. CSNCA