OAKLAND -- If the national stories keep classifying these A's as an overperforming, underpaid club trying to sneak into October, they should include something else:
How serious they take losses in September.
The momentum from that nine-game winning streak has, as of Tuesday night's 6-1 loss to the Angels, shifted to a mood reflected in what was heard in the clubhouse after the game -- which was, very little. The A's had just lost sole control of the AL Wild Card lead and face a possible sweep in the three-game series finale Wednesday.
So in the same way these A's dismiss preseason predictions and payroll comparisons -- in this one, the Angels have one three times larger than theirs -- Oakland starter Jarrod Parker shrugged off one of his best starts in a while to deliver, quietly, his summation.
"I had pretty good stuff tonight, but all in all, we lost," he said, while later explaining that "every game is big right now. Every game is important."
It is still an A's team at 76-59 overall, with the expectation that it can hang with teams like the Angels (73-63), at home or on the road, where it will be in 17 of the 20 remaining important games after Wednesday.
"It's 'Don't get swept by them,' let alone a home-and-away issue," manager Bob Melvin said.
The issues revolved around an offense that couldn't keep up in Monday's 8-3 loss, and on Tuesday had just four hits, including Brandon Moss' seventh-inning home run that temporarily cut the lead to 2-1; reliever Sean Doolittle allowing his first runs in 10 starts, these coming in the eighth with that 2-1 deficit; and Angels starter Zack Greinke (4-2 with the Angels) outdueling Parker (9-8) even though they each worked seven innings.
In the first inning, the A's stranded runners on second and third with two outs. Greinke settled down from then on. In the third, Seth Smith's two-out shot to left-center field was just short of a home run and bounced off the wall, only for him to be left stranded at second. And in the sixth, Josh Reddick drove a 1-0 changeup deep, but center fielder Mike Trout jumped and caught it while making contact with the wall.
Parker cruised early on, allowing a double and a single through the first four innings.
The game shifted gears in the top of the fifth, when Alberto Callaspo led off with a single and hustled to third base on Chris Iannetta's one-out single to center field. Trout followed and scored Callaspo with a line-drive single to give the Angels the 1-0 lead.
In the sixth, the Angels started with back-to-back singles and used a sacrifice bunt followed by Callaspo's sac fly to center field to bring in Kendrys Morales and make it 2-0.
In the seventh, Moss -- batting fifth and starting at first base in the place of regular Chris Carter -- jacked an 0-1 offering to deep left-center. Moss' blast was his 16th home run and tied him with Yoenis Cespedes for second most on the team.
The left-hander Doolittle relieved Parker to start the eighth. On a full count with two outs and Howie Kendrick on second, Erick Aybar smacked a double to left-center, scoring Kendrick for a 3-1 lead. The next batter, Callaspo, muscled a single just over the leaping second baseman Cliff Pennington, plating Aybar and making it 4-1.
Parker surrendered eight hits and two runs, struck out five and walked none over his seven innings. It was the second time in Parker's last eight starts that he lasted at least seven frames. He had a 5.40 ERA in his last 10 starts.
Greinke's final line: four hits, two walks, four strikeouts and one run. Greinke has improved recently, with a 1.66 ERA his last three starts after 7.20 ERA in his previous four.
"This was obviously 180 degrees from his start earlier here in Oakland," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "You could see it coming his last couple of starts, just finding his release point."
Meanwhile, the A's search their clubhouse for more offense, with the urgency of knowing it is September, all in the hopes of making noise yet again.
Willie Bans is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.