SAN FRANCISCO -- Jason Hammel didn't exactly pitch poorly in his A's debut Wednesday night. But if you're a member of the Oakland rotation these days, it doesn't take much to look subpar.

Hammel gave up three runs over five innings against the Giants at AT&T Park -- just two of them earned -- but took the loss in a 5-2 A's defeat, the club's first in seven games in the wake of one of their starting pitchers giving up more than one run in a game for the first time in a week.

Oakland starters had given up just four earned runs over 40 innings the past six days, while tossing at least six innings in all six wins. Those numbers were truly historic -- the last year the A's had a rotation run like that was exactly 100 years ago, in 1914. So Hammel had a heady challenge to live up to before he even took the mound.

But that streak is now over, even though Hammel, who came to Oakland as the second significant piece in the Jeff Samardzija deal with the Chicago Cubs, kept the A's in the game against the Giants' Matt Cain. His roughest patch was a third-inning tightrope walk in which he threw 37 pitches but somehow allowed just one run.

Hammel (8-6) said he felt fine physically -- he consistently hit 93 mph on the radar gun with his fastball -- but just wasn't as sharp as he was accustomed to being with his off-speed pitches. He gave up six hits and three walks over his five innings, but it was bases on balls total that was noteworthy -- the right-hander hadn't walked three men in a game since April 16. In addition, his three strikeouts were his lowest total of the year in 18 starts.


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"It was just inconsistent command," Hammel said. "That's just not me, walking guys. I got myself in trouble putting guys on base, and also putting guys away with two-strike pitches that were too hittable."

Things could have been a lot worse, though, and unlike his predecessors in recent days, Hammel didn't get much offensive support -- the A's managed just five hits against Cain and three relievers -- and his defense didn't help him out much, either, as the A's lost for the 13th time in 15 games at AT&T Park.

Despite the defeat, which trimmed their lead in the American League West to 31/2 games over the Los Angeles Angels, Oakland liked what it saw from its other new right-hander.

"I thought he pitched awesome," said Stephen Vogt, whose fourth-inning solo homer accounted for one of the A's two runs. "They made him throw a lot of pitches. I think (the Giants) just did a good job against him. They've seen him a lot. He's new to us, but not new to them, and they probably had a pretty good game plan against him."

Hammel said it was somewhat of a moral victory to get through the 37-pitch third inning and give the A's a chance to win. At that point, however, Hammel had already thrown 69 pitches.

"My slider is usually my go-to pitch, and I just wasn't commanding it tonight, and I was getting my fastball up," he said. "I got into some trouble with those deep counts. But that's what you're going to get from me. I'm going to battle and leave it all out there. Tonight was just a grind, but we still had a chance to win."

After the A's had cut the score to 2-1 on Vogt's homer, Hammel gave the run back in the bottom of the fourth, when he surrendered Hunter Pence's 12th homer of the season, a blast to straightaway center, after getting ahead in the count 1-2.

"Fastball down the middle," Hammel said. "It was supposed to be a four-seamer in, I just cut it a little bit, and it came over the middle of the plate and he got it."

Hammel exited after five innings and 99 pitches when he suffered a bizarre cramp in his thumb in the bottom of the fifth.

The A's nearly took him off the hook in the top of the sixth. They scored one run on a Jed Lowrie two-out RBI single to cut it to 3-2, but with runners at first and third, Derek Norris grounded out to shortstop against Cain

But the Giants solidified their lead by scoring two runs against A's left-hander Eric O'Flaherty in the bottom of the sixth.

  • Left-hander Drew Pomeranz (fractured right hand) may be ready for a rehab assignment within the week. Working his way back onto the staff may be more problematic for Pomeranz, who went on the disabled list June 17 when he slammed his hand into a chair following a poor outing.

    Asked if Pomeranz would come back as a starter, manager Bob Melvin said, "I'm not sure yet. But we sent Tommy Milone down, so we're pretty full up as far as starters go."

    THURSDAY'S GAME
    A's (Scott Kazmir 10-3)
    at Giants (Tim Hudson 7-5),
    12:45 p.m. CSNCA,
    CSNBA

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