OAKLAND, Calif. (AP)—Justin Duchscherer is showing he’s healthy again. Now, he wants to start working deeper into games.
Duchscherer won his second straight start in his third outing since coming off the disabled list and the Oakland Athletics beat the Baltimore Orioles 4-2 on Tuesday night for their third straight victory.
“I felt great,” Duchscherer said. “It’s nice to get out of the fifth inning. I’m definitely encouraged. I’m glad I got deeper in the game. Hopefully from now on I can get to a 100-plus pitch count.”
Emil Brown gave the A’s a lead with a run-scoring single in the first and Bobby Crosby and Mark Ellis drove in runs on groundouts in the third. Rajai Davis added a sacrifice fly for an insurance run in the sixth and Frank Thomas had two singles and scored twice.
Duchscherer (3-1) struck out the first two batters he faced, retired the initial nine and got through three innings on only 30 pitches. He struck out two in the third. His leadoff walk to Brian Roberts in the fourth was his first baserunner.
Baltimore designated hitter Aubrey Huff singled in a run in the fourth to put the Orioles on the board with the first hit off Duchscherer. Huff has a season-best 10-game hitting streak.
Duchscherer allowed two runs and four hits in seven innings, struck out four and walked two. It was just his fourth start of the season and ninth of his career after he spent a stint on the DL last month with a strained biceps muscle in his throwing arm.
Manager Bob Geren considered allowing Duchscherer to go back out for the eighth, but with the right-hander at 85 pitches and the way things were lining up opted to go to his bullpen.
“That’s Bob’s decision and I’m fine with it,” Duchscherer said.
The A’s got three straight two-out singles in the first off Brian Burres (3-3), including Brown’s RBI blooper that landed just inside the right-field line and stayed put. Oakland loaded the bases against Burres with three straight singles to start the third.
The left-hander lost his second straight start and the Orioles have dropped a season-high four straight games and six of seven.
“Everybody in baseball goes through it and we’re going through it right now,” Baltimore manager Dave Trembley said. “We’re in every game. It just seems like things aren’t going our way. Obviously you make your own fortune but I’ve got no problem with the approach. It seems like we make one mistake and it costs us. … The worst thing in the world you can do is shove it down their throats and say they’re not trying the best they can, because I know better.”
Baltimore has played six straight games decided by two or fewer runs after a 2-1 loss in 10 innings in the series opener Monday. The Orioles had only four hits Tuesday.
“They’re going to start falling for us. We’re hitting balls hard, just at people. It’ll turn,” Burres said.
Trembley even called his players together for a brief team meeting near the dugout before they stretched for batting practice Tuesday. He reminded them that the pitching has been strong and the rest of the facets will eventually come together.
“I think the guys need to know what I feel, how I feel about them,” Trembley said. “One-run losses have a way of snowballing. They stay with you. They stay underneath your skin.”
Ellis, who already had an 0-for-18 funk earlier this season, dropped from second in the order to seventh and went 0-for-3 and was hit by a pitch to move to 0-for-16 on the homestand.
“It’s tough, but I’ve been through it before,” Ellis said.
Baltimore is discussing how it might alter its rotation with days off Monday and next Thursday. … The A’s will have a tough decision to make once RHP Rich Harden comes off the DL, which could be as soon as Sunday at Texas. Harden struck out nine in six scoreless innings in a rehab start for Class-A Stockton on Tuesday. He allowed three hits, plunked three and didn’t walk a batter. The A’s have been discussing their options, with one starter surely to come out of the rotation to make room for Harden. Sending that pitcher to Triple-A Sacramento could be an option. “At this point, we’re leaving all options open,” Geren said, acknowledging someone might wind up unhappy. “Nothing’s been decided.”