OAKLAND -- As much as blown saves are becoming the norm these days for Ryan Cook, so, too, are the heroic pick-me-up acts from his teammates that follow.
Except there wasn't one on Saturday.
"I guess you can't walk every game off," Brandon Inge said.
Cook was charged with his second blown save in as many days, and the fourth in his last six outings, after surrendering a game-tying home run to Toronto's David Cooper in the top of the ninth. Two innings later, lefty Jerry Blevins offered up the go-ahead run, plus another, and the A's couldn't recover in a 3-1 loss -- their extra-inning magic worn off following Friday's 15-inning thriller.
"You're not going to win all those games, except you expect to, especially the way we've been playing in them," said manager Bob Melvin, whose squad has already tucked away a Major League-leading 13 walk-off wins this season. "We had our opportunities, but we just didn't come through this time."
With one out and runners on first and second in the 11th, after the A's left the bases loaded in the 10th, Blevins rung up Yan Gomes, only to watch battery mate George Kottaras make an errant throw to third with Edwin Encarnacion trying to steal. The ball sailed into the outfield, allowing Encarnacion to score, and Moises Sierra capped off the frame with an RBI double.
"The throw was pretty good, but when you're catching, you can't control much of the grip you have. So you catch it and throw it as quick as you can, and it actually was coming in and it cut," said Inge, who was manning third. "I had it where I wanted it, but it just cut over too much to where I could [not] get there and get the tag down."
Having won the previous two over the Blue Jays, Oakland still has a chance to claim the four-game series victory in Sunday's finale. It's likely the club will need to bring in some relief help to do so.
After seven A's pitchers were used on Friday, six saw action on Saturday -- including lefty Jordan Norberto, who delivered a stellar long-relief performance spanning a career-high 3 2/3 innings in the most desperate of times.
The lefty put up zeroes in all of them, after being summoned in emergency relief of starter A.J. Griffin, who departed after just 1 2/3 innings because of right shoulder tightness. He tallied 68 pitches, also a career high, and surrendered four hits while walking none and recording four strikeouts. The southpaw had pitched at least two innings just six times this season prior to Saturday, his previous high coming on July 22 (2 1/3 frames).
"That was outstanding," Griffin said. "It's just the way it's been all year, the bullpen picking us up -- and I was just really bummed I couldn't pick them up after last night."
"We gotta be prepared for this," Norberto said. "That's what we're here for."
Pat Neshek and Grant Balfour followed his work with a combined 2 2/3 scoreless frames before Cook's arrival. The righty's seven blown saves are most in the American League, and his ERA over his past six appearances is worrisome at 9.00 -- at least from an outside perspective.
"His stuff hasn't been bad," Melvin said. "We're talking about a young kid who hasn't been in this role before. There's going to be some times where you're going to struggle some. He's gotta fight his way through it."
"I feel great," Cook insisted. "I really don't know what to tell you. Just one of those things. I gotta keep pitching."
There was little room for error for the rookie, as the A's had managed just one run -- courtesy of Derek Norris' second-inning RBI double -- off Blue Jays lefty Ricky Romero, who gave Toronto seven innings of three-hit ball.
"Offense was a little off today," Melvin said. "We didn't get too many hits, and later in the game we had some opportunities to score but we didn't."
"We'll put this loss behind us," Inge said, "and win tomorrow."