SEATTLE (AP) - Jason Vargas' night started badly when the first batter he faced, Coco Crisp, lined a comebacker that smacked hard into Vargas' lower left leg.
It only got worse from there for the Seattle lefty.
Vargas lost his ninth straight decision and was knocked around by Oakland's struggling offense in a 9-1 loss to the Athletics on Saturday night.
After Vargas was done describing the sting - and likely bruise - left by Crisp's shot, he broke down his own performance.
``There needs to be a little more sense of urgency out there for me,' Vargas said. ``I need to be able to take the club deeper into ball games and today I didn't do that.'
Vargas lasted just five innings and gave up six runs and six hits and saw his ERA climb to 5.53, although this was just the second time in five starts he's allowed more than two earned runs.
While the RBI double he gave up to Crisp in the third inning finally broke Oakland's 20-inning scoreless streak - and 24 straight scoreless innings by Seattle pitching - it was the fourth when the A's really got to Vargas.
Kurt Suzuki walked with one out and stole second base. He was still there with two outs when Kevin Kouzmanoff hit a liner to center. Michael Saunders broke quickly and made a dive for the sinking liner, but misjudged it and the ball glanced off his glove. It was ruled a single and Suzkui scored to give Oakland a 2-1 lead.
Cliff Pennington then jumped on Vargas' next pitch and hit a two-run homer into the Oakland bullpen in left field.
``I'm just not doing a good job of something I usually do; when I get two outs pretty quick I usually finish off the inning,' said Vargas, who has not won since last Aug. 14. ``Today I just didn't do that.'
Oakland then broke the game open in the sixth, knocking out Vargas before he could record an out. Reliever Josh Lueke didn't fare any better and the rookie saw his ERA climb to 17.05 after giving up Kouzmanoff's three-run homer on a 1-2 breaking ball that hung in the middle of the strike zone. Lueke's now allowed 12 earned runs and 12 hits in 6 1-3 innings of relief this season.
``We just didn't play very well tonight on all sides of the baseball,' Seattle manager Eric Wedge said. ``They took advantage of opportunities and we didn't.'
A's starter Trevor Cahill escaped trouble in each of the first two innings, then settled down to retire 15 of his final 17 batters. He struck out two and walked only one.
Cahill was helped by his defense early, no play bigger than Suzuki fielding a short-hop relay throw from Ellis and tagging out Chone Figgins trying to score on Adam Kennedy's double in the first. Even after Figgins was cut down, Seattle had runners on second and third, but Cahill got Saunders to ground out to end the inning.
Seattle did get a two-out RBI single from Jack Wilson in the second, but Conor Jackson made a diving grab in foul ground on Figgins' pop up to end that inning with two runners on.
``We are still leaving too many people on base. We made some mistakes really in every area of the game tonight,' Wedge said. ``Against a guy like Cahill, much less anybody, you just can't do that. We've got to do a better job controlling damage. We've had way too many big innings this year.'
NOTES: Oakland's starting pitching has allowed just 10 earned runs in the last 58 innings pitched - a span of nine starts. ... Seattle RF Ichiro Suzuki went 3-for-4 to move his average back above .300 (.304). ... Seattle closer David Aardsma is schedule to throw at least one more rehab outing with Triple-A Tacoma - scheduled for Sunday - before a decision is made on if he'll rejoin the club. Aardsma has been recovering from offseason hip surgery.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved