OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) - Brandon McCarthy had everything going in his first start back other than endurance.
McCarthy faced the minimum batters through 5 2-3 innings in his return from the disabled list before allowing single runs in the sixth and seventh that proved to be enough to give the Seattle Mariners a 2-1 victory Monday.
``I got tired pretty early, not having really gotten that high in pitch counts,' McCarthy said. ``It was a little different. The intensity was ramped up, but I was able to get through it and I just kept battling. After the fifth I started to get a little physically tired.'
McCarthy, who had been out since May 19 with a right shoulder injury, struck out two batters in a 10-pitch first inning, whiffed four of the first six hitters overall and retired the first nine batters on 34 pitches. But he wore down a bit after that.
He needed a leaping grab by in front of the left-field fence to start a double play to escape the fifth inning and then allowed a solo homer to Josh Bard in the sixth and an RBI double to Justin Smoak in the seventh to lose his career-worst fifth straight decision.
``I thought he was terrific at the start,' manager Bob Melvin said. ``He gives up a home run to Bard, when in that position you don't want to walk anybody so you have to throw strikes. Then toward the end maybe just a little bit. It was more the ups and downs than the pitches for me. All in all he pitched great, good enough to win. They just got one more hit than we did and when it counted.'
McCarthy (1-5) gave up two runs and four hits in 6 2-3 innings and is 0-5 in his last eight starts despite having six quality starts in that span.
``It was good to get back out there,' McCarthy said. ``I'm disappointed with the way I finished and the way it kind of rolled out but it was good to get back at it.'
The latest loss came because the A's managed just three hits off Michael Pineda (8-5) and three relievers.
Pineda gave up one run that was aided by a popup lost in the sun, allowed just two hits and struck out seven in six innings. He allowed just one baserunner in his final four innings, retiring 12 of the final 13 batters he faced, to win for just the second time in his last eight starts.
``He's really maturing,' Bard said. ``He's becoming that big horse, inning-eater guy that we need him to be. We talked to him hard today makings sure he came out ready to pitch in the first inning. Sometimes he gets caught pacing himself a little bit. He did a great job doing that.'
Aaron Laffey, David Pauley and Brandon League each pitched one scoreless inning of relief with League getting his 23rd save in 26 chances.
Bard's two-out solo homer to right-center tied the game at 1 in the sixth inning. It was only the second homer McCarthy has allowed all season with Seattle's Adam Kennedy getting the other in April.
Ryan then opened the seventh with a single and scored on Smoak's double into the right-field corner that proved to be enough for the Mariners to win the series opener.
``Luckily Smoaky was able to get the head out and drive me in there for that second run,' Ryan said. ``Still you can't just assume we're going to not give up more than three hits every game. We still need to put runs up on the board.'
The A's did even less offensively, sending up three batters in five of his six innings. Oakland got some help from the sun to score its only run in two games this season against Pineda.
Kennedy lost Hideki Matsui's foul pop near third base in the sun to open the second inning, giving Matsui a reprieve. He followed with a sharp single to right field on the next pitch and later scored on Kurt Suzuki's two-out single to left.
The A's didn't get another hit off until after Pineda left the game on Suzuki's one-out single in the eighth inning off Pauley.
``He's got a great arm,' Suzuki said of Pineda. ``That fastball just jumps on you. He doesn't make it easy. He had his pitches working, kept the ball down in the zone. He's good. He's young but he's good.'
NOTES: Mariners starters have allowed three runs in their past 31 innings. ... A's reliever Grant Balfour will throw a one-inning rehab assignment for Triple-A Sacramento on Tuesday and is expected back from the DL this weekend in Texas. ... Oakland is a major league worst 12-19 in one-run games.
The Associated Press News Service
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