OAKLAND -- It was business as usual on Saturday night for Oakland A's right-hander Brandon McCarthy in his American League-leading fifth start of the season.
McCarthy received less than three runs of support for the fifth straight time and remained winless in 2012.
McCarthy allowed just two runs over seven innings against the Cleveland Indians, but the A's lost, 5-1, and his record fell to 0-3.
"We haven't swung the bats particularly well when he's pitching, but all we can ask from him is to go out there and do what he's doing," A's second baseman Jemile Weeks said. "As long as he's doing his job, we'll do ours and we'll work on ours. It is a team, so as long as he's doing what he's asked to do, we're going to pick it up every time he's out there and do better."
The A's had shown some signs of offensive life while winning the final three games of a four-game road series against the Angels. But they've gone back into their hitting funk during the first two games at home against the Indians. The A's entered Saturday's game ranked last in the A.L. in batting (.204), on-base percentage (.279), slugging percentage (.328) and batting with runners in scoring position (.180).
"We've been pitched fairly well these last two games, but coming off the games we played in Anaheim, I would have expected us to be on it a little bit more offensively," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "We just weren't the last couple games, whether or not we were a little anxious or whatever. If I knew for sure, we'd try to do something about it. But I certainly thought after that series that we were on our way offensively. We're just bogged down a little bit the last couple games again."
McCarthy allowed 13 Indians to reach base, but he escaped numerous jams and limited the damage. He allowed 10 hits, walked three and struck out four while throwing 113 pitches -- just 65 of them strikes. The A's were trailing, 2-1, when he left the game after the seventh.
McCarthy said he felt better than he did his previous few starts.
"I was able to kind of settle down into more of a groove. I worked some things out mechanically I needed to, and I was a little bit more consistent," McCarthy said. "I'm still not happy with that second run, the circumstances that surrounded it. Too many hits. But other than that, I felt like I battled well and I was able to get deep in the game, which was a positive. But I still could be a little better."
McCarthy pointed the finger at himself, not his offense, for being winless this year. He said the only time he pitched "well enough to win" was in the A's season-opener against Seattle in Tokyo, when he gave up one run over seven innings. The A's lost, 3-1, in 11 innings, and he received a no-decision.
"It will come," McCarthy said of run support. "Sitting there worrying about it or shaking my head tonight, it doesn't do any good. It doesn't affect me when I'm out there. You know it's happening, but it's just go and throw. All I can focus on is getting my three outs, and making sure that they score as few runs as possible. At some point, it will come out and I'll be on the receiving end of some run support. It's going to happen, and to sit around worrying about it is pointless."
McCarthy gave up a run in the first inning, but it could have been worse. With one out, Jason Kipnis and Shin-Soo Choo lined back-to-back singles, and McCarthy walked Carlos Santana, loading the bases. Travis Hafner brought Kipnis home with a groundout, and McCarthy struck out Shelley Duncan for the third out.
McCarthy escaped a two-out, bases-loaded jam unscathed in the fifth, retiring Casey Kotchman on a fly ball to center. But in the sixth, McCarthy gave up another run when Jason Donald singled sharply to center, stole second and scored when Kipnis lined a two-out single to center.
The A's cut Cleveland's lead to 2-1 in the bottom of the sixth. Cliff Pennington doubled down the right-field line, moved to third on right fielder Josh Reddick's flyout to deep center and scored on Yoenis Cespedes sacrifice fly to deep right-center.
With two outs and none on, the Indians scored three runs in the eighth off reliever Brian Fuentes. Kipnis hit a two-run triple off the right-field wall -- Reddick was there but couldn't come up with the tough catch -- and scored on a wild pitch.
"He's a tough lefty-on-lefty matchup," Kipnis said of Fuentes. "I was really just kind of making sure I got his fastball up. I was kind of hoping that he would come with it instead of the spin. I kind of got my foot down early enough and was able to just turn on it. I thought [Reddick] was going to catch it. I was hoping it was out of his reach, and it looked like it kind of just went to the left of his glove on the replay I saw. I got lucky."
A's rookie reliever Pedro Figueroa, who was called up from Triple-A Sacramento on Saturday, made his Major League debut and pitched a scoreless ninth. But by then, the damage had been done.
Eric Gilmore is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.