A's unable to hold lead vs. Jays
Smith gets no-decision after Street allows two runs in ninth
TORONTO -- Huston Street has been a fixture as the A's closer since his first season in the big leagues. However, with the pitcher struggling on the mound lately, Oakland manager Bob Geren had said during the weekend that he would not be opposed to using some of his other bullpen options for the ninth-inning role, while still including Street in the mix.
On Tuesday, Street may have taken one more step to losing the closer role for good, as he entered the ninth inning with a one-run lead and subsequently allowed the Blue Jays to come from behind to beat the A's, 4-3, at Rogers Centre.
Making matters worse for Oakland (53-59) was the fact that the loss was the club's season-high eighth straight.
"Every time you have a chance to win and you don't, it's always frustrating," Geren said. "We had a rough week. It would have been a big one to win and get us going."
Street, though, was even more dejected following the loss.
"It's frustrating," he said. "It's really frustrating. We've lost seven in a row coming into that game. We had three outs to get for a win. Our bullpen pitched solid up to that point.
"I'm frustrated with myself more than anything."
Street entered the game in the ninth with his team leading the Jays, 3-2. However, Toronto (57-56) center fielder Alex Rios opened the frame with a single and was later driven home on an RBI double to left field from Rod Barajas, tying the game at 3. Three batters later, pinch-runner Brad Wilkerson was driven home on a walk-off single from Jays right fielder Kevin Mench.
For Street, such outings have become more frequent of late. Over his last nine games, the right-hander is 0-3 with a 6.75 ERA. During that stretch, Street has also blown three saves, allowing seven runs and 15 hits across 9 1/3 innings.
Geren elected to have reliever Brad Ziegler pitch the seventh and eighth innings on Tuesday, before turning to Street in the ninth. Ziegler, who extended his consecutive-scoreless-innings streak to 34 -- setting a new record for Oakland relievers -- has seemingly pitched his way into being an option for the closer's role. Not so on Tuesday, though.
"Ziggy gave me two innings and was right around 20 pitches," Geren said. "I had to decide, 'Should I let him go three innings or do I go to Huston?' It's a lot to ask for a guy to go three innings every time he goes out there."
Street, on the other hand, said that he was not bothered by fact that Geren has discussed using other options in the closer's role.
"Bob has said that I was going to get the majority of the opportunities," said Street. "He told me to be ready from the seventh inning on, and when he calls on you, you're job is to come out there and put up a zero. That's all I expect to do, whenever I go out, whatever inning it is.
"It's going to be difficult sleeping tonight, no doubt. But when I wake up in the morning, it's over. That's how I'm going to approach it."
Lost in the defeat for Oakland was a strong performance from A's starter Greg Smith. The left-hander stifled the Jays, allowing just two runs on four hits over six innings. He walked two and struck out four, throwing 87 pitches in his outing.
The Oakland hitters were able to give Smith a lead, as they got to Toronto starter Scott Richmond early in the game. In the second inning, A's center fielder Carlos Gonzalez lined a double into deep right field and then scored on an RBI single from Mark Ellis to give the A's a 1-0 lead.
In the fourth inning, Gonzalez was again a factor in the scoring when he singled and was later driven in, along with Jack Hannahan, on a triple to left-center field off the bat of A's shortstop Bobby Crosby, which gave Oakland a 3-2 lead that was not relinquished until the ninth.
Had Street not blown the save, Smith would have collected his first win since June 30.
"A guy like Huston is going to be OK," Smith said. "He's a good pitcher. He knows what he's doing. He does his homework. He's got a great work ethic, so nobody's worried about Huston. He's going to be there in the end.
"It's just the fact that this can wear on you and none of us want that to happen to him. He's a good guy and we're behind him a 100 percent."
David Singh is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.