JP Sears continued his run of encouraging starts, but a big finish again eluded the Oakland A’s on Thursday night in a 3-2 loss to the Seattle Mariners at T-Mobile Park.
The loss capped a winless trip for the A’s, who went 0-7 and return to the Coliseum to face the defending World Series champion Houston Astros starting Friday night.
The A’s, who have lost eight in a row overall, started the trip by being swept in Houston. The team’s 10-42 record matches the 1932 Boston Red Sox for the worst 52-game start since 1901, and its .192 win percentage projects to a 31-131 mark that would easily be the worst for a major league team since the 1899 Cleveland Spiders went 20-134.
The reeling A’s have dropped 16 of 18 overall and been swept in seven series this season. The A’s failed to score more than two runs in any the seven games on the trip, and three of the losses were 3-2 decisions.
Oakland were off to a promising start when Ryan Noda doubled with one out in the first inning and Seth Brown hit a two-run home run two batters later. But the A’s managed just one more baserunner the rest of the game off starter Logan Gilbert (3-2) and reliever Paul Sewald.
Sears was nearly as good. The lefty allowed one run and three hits over five innings, and turned a 2-1 lead over to the bullpen. But Ty France, who homered off of Sears in the bottom of the first inning, tied the score in the sixth with a home run off Trevor May. France was back in the lineup after taking a fastball from May off his left hand Tuesday.
Sears had only thrown 59 pitches when manager Mark Kotsay went to his bullpen.
“I think JP was throwing the ball well (but) we had a full bullpen lined up,” Kotsay said. “He gave us five good innings, France had homered off him in the first. I felt confident with the matchup with May coming in there, and France hits a fastball that’s up and in, gets the head (of the bat) out and hits another homer.
“Our starters of late haven’t gotten through that third time through very well and I liked our bullpen tonight. I thought we had great matchups going forward. It wasn’t a bad pitch. Unfortunately, it gets hit out of the ballpark.”
France reached in the eighth on a fielder’s choice and went to third on Julio Rodríguez’s two-out double off rookie reliever Garrett Acton. After an intentional walk to Jarred Kelenic loaded the bases, Eugenio Suárez drew a bases-loaded walk from Acton to push across the go-ahead run.
Sears is winless in 10 starts this season, but completed an encouraging May. He allowed two or fewer runs in four of his five starts in the month, but the A’s scored three or fewer runs in all five and lost them all.
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— Paul Blackburn (finger) was back with the A’s after starting at Tacoma for Triple-A Las Vegas on Wednesday. Kotsay said Blackburn will fly back to Oakland and there’s a good chance the A’s lone 2022 All-Star will be back in the rotation soon.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.