OAKLAND -- There's only so much Sean Doolittle to go around. Manager Bob Melvin has to pick his spot, depending upon the situation. On Wednesday, Doolittle was targeted to pitch the ninth inning for the A's.
That left the eighth inning to Fernando Abad and Luke Gregerson. By the time the inning ended, the Chicago White Sox had turned a one-run deficit into a two-run lead.
As it turned out, Melvin never got a chance to summon relief ace Doolittle as the White Sox closed out the 4-2 victory and avoided a three-game sweep.
Oakland's season-high six-game win streak ended in what has become an all-too-familiar fashion the first quarter of this season.
The A's lost for the fifth time in only 41 games when they led after seven innings. They had six such losses all last season.
"It's a tough game," Gregerson said. "It's funny, you can get any guys out at certain times. Sometimes you make great pitches and a guy hits a ball."
In this case, Jose Abreu blasted a Gregerson fastball off the facade of the second deck in left field for a game-deciding, three-run home run.
Melvin is quick to defend his relievers and even quicker to give Abreu credit for pouncing on a pitch that strayed from the desired location.
"He got a pitch in the middle of the plate to a really good hitter who's hot," Melvin said.
All series long, A's pitchers worked inside to Abreu in an attempt to keep him from getting his arms extended and making solid contact.
Starter Tommy Milone struck out Abreu twice and induced a fly ball to center. Gregerson tried the same approach, with runners on first and third and one out.
It worked well the first pitch. Abreu turned on the second pitch and launched it over the fence for his major league-leading 15th home run.
"He's something special, it seems like," Milone said. "Any mistake you throw to him, it seems like he's going to hit a home run. He's just one of those guys you got to be real careful."
Abreu is only the fourth player in history with as many as 15 home runs in his first 42 major league games.
"You try to throw him pitches that aren't around the strike zone and make him fish, which he definitely does," Gregerson said. "I don't think it necessarily was a bad pitch. It was just something he was ready for, he was looking for it.
"We've been doing it to him the whole series, pound him in. It just stayed up a little too much. Any other day it could be a ground out to third base, we get a double play."
Gregerson's blown save is the eighth of the season for the A's relievers. That is tied with the Houston Astros for most in the league.
The blown save also cost Milone a shot at his second win of the season. Milone allowed a home run on his first pitch of the game, but he pitched six innings without further damage.
Milone settled down after his initial hiccup and picked up where he left off in his previous start, when he held the Washington Nationals to no runs and five base runners over eight innings.
"Tommy the last two times out has been as good as we've seen him over the last couple of years," Melvin said.
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A's (Sonny Gray 4-1) at Cleveland (TBA), 4:05 p.m. CSNCA