OAKLAND — The top of the sixth inning had a little bit of everything. Unfortunately for the A's, none of it was good.
With one out and the bases loaded, and Oakland leading 4-1, Angels shortstop Andrelton Simmons hit a high foul ball down the right field line. A's right fielder Stephen Piscotty hustled over to try to make the catch, but a fan reached out over the railing and gloved the ball momentarily, before dropping it. Oakland manager Bob Melvin challenged for fan interference, but to no avail.
Three pitches later, Simmons singled to center, scoring two runs. After Taylor Ward was hit by a pitch to load the beases again, Kaleb Cowart belted the first grand slam of his career, and the first by the Angels this season. Los Angeles ended up scoring six runs in the inning and added two more in the eighth to take a 9-4 lead. The A's battled back to score three runs in the bottom of the eighth, but ultimately fell 9-7.
Oakland has lost three games in a row for the first time since July 27-29 against the Rockies. The A's fell to five games behind the Astros in the AL West and 2 1/2 games behind the Yankees for the top Wild Card spot. They lead the Rays by five-and-a-half games for the second Wild Card position.
Here's what else you need to know...
--- Mark Canha made the most of his first start in 10 days, clearing the bases with a two-out double in the fourth inning. He also walked in his other plate appearance. For the season, Canha is slashing .244/.321/.443 with 16 home runs and 50 RBI. He could provide a nice option against left-handed pitching in the playoffs.
--- Dustin Fowler came through in the eighth inning with a pinch-hit two-run single, his first hit since July 26. Fowler has mostly lost his playing time to Ramon Laureano and Nick Martini, but he could still be a valuable contributor in the postseason, especially as a pinch-runner. For the season, Fowler is slashing .226/.259/.358.
--- Liam Hendriks “opened” and pitched an impressive first inning, retiring the Angels on just seven pitches. He has now thrown six consecutive scoreless innings, as he continues to get more comfortable with the team's “bullpenning” strategy. It also doesn't hurt that he is now healthy and throwing his fastball at 96 miles per hour.
--- Daniel Mengden pitched a solid four innings, allowing just a single run on two hits and two walks, with three strikeouts. In his last three appearances, Mengden has allowed just one run on three hits in 13 2/3 innings, lowering his ERA to 4.00. He and Hendriks have made for a solid “bullpenning” tandem the last few outings.
--- The usually reliable A's bullpen struggled after Mengden exited the game, allowing eight earned runs in four innings. Shawn Kelley gave up two of the runs, his first since joining Oakland. Cory Gearrin also allowed two runs in one inning and Lou Trivino surrendered three, increasing his ERA to 2.50.