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Reddick belts a two-run homer in the first

OAKLAND -- Despite dropping a 9-5 contest to the Orioles on Sunday, the A's still left the series as victors.

Oakland took two of three in the clash between baseball's surprise contenders and head into Monday's off-day with a two-game lead on Baltimore for the top American League Wild Card spot. Over in the AL West, the A's fell to three games behind the Rangers, who defeated the Mariners in Texas on Sunday.

The A's have won eight of their last 10, 23 of their last 30 and 47 of 67 since the start of July, putting them in prime position as they begin their most challenging road trip of the season through Detroit, New York and Texas on Tuesday.

"It's great," manager Bob Melvin said. "When you win the first two games, you want to get greedy and take that third game. We're playing it day to day, but going into this series you got a chance to take two of three from a good team like that, you'll take it."

Melvin's club will have Monday's off-day to recover from Sunday's defeat, in which Oakland's pitching staff showcased rare struggles, before playing 16 games in 16 days to finish out the season.

"Everybody knew what the schedule was going to be here," Melvin said. "At times, it always seems like after an off-day you're a little bit off, and it just seems like over the course of this year we've had off-days. It seems like we come out a little sluggish at times. At this time of year I don't think 16 in a row is going to bother us because every game's going to have the magnitude that it is. Everybody's looking forward to getting to the park and playing."

Righty starter Dan Straily wishes he was going again earlier than Saturday, following a messy Sunday outing. The rookie lasted just 4 2/3 innings, surrendering four runs on five hits -- two of them home runs from Matt Wieters -- with five walks (one intentional) and one strikeout.

In five games that Straily has started, that was the first that ended in an A's loss.

"That's the most guys I've ever walked in a single game in my life," Straily said. "That's frustrating. Just poor fastball command, and I started falling behind hitters and then starting to be too fine. I wasn't even close to the strike zone.

"It's just a bad day at work. We go back to work, ready to fix things."

The A's bullpen didn't fare much better. Having entered the day with an AL-leading 2.79 ERA, Oakland relievers were tagged for five runs, with three charged to Tyson Ross in just one-third of an inning.

Melvin utilized seven pitchers on the day, including four in four batters in the long but successful sixth, when Baltimore left the bases loaded before breaking out for five in the final three innings.

"Just too many toys in the chest," Melvin said, smiling. "I knew I was going to get killed one of these games, making it a four-hour game."

This one fell just 24 minutes short of that mark, and Oakland's offense was more quiet than not during that time.

The A's hit a rut after a two-run first, when Josh Reddick launched his 29th homer of the year -- a two-run shot off Randy Wolff -- for a lead that barely lasted, as the A's didn't find the board again until the eighth, as Stephen Drew collected his second homer in as many days with a two-run homer of his own.

Reddick added an RBI single to his day in the ninth, but by that time Baltimore's lead proved insurmountable.

"We had some tack-ons. We knew we were going to need them," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "You can see why this club has had such a successful year, Oakland. You got to really try to put your foot on them if you can. But they are not going to go away and you knew they were going to make a run."

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