OAKLAND -- After allowing just six runs in the first six games of the homestand, the A's bullpen imploded Saturday night in a 10-5 loss to the rival Giants.
Oakland's pen surrendered eight runs in a nightmare eighth inning, the most the A's have given up in a single inning all season long, as they watched a 4-2 lead turn into a 10-4 deficit.
After Jake Diekman retired the first batter in the eighth, Yusmeiro Petit, A.J. Puk, and Lou Trivino combined to allow seven straight batters to reach base on six hits and a walk.
"We just couldn't get an out," said A's manager Bob Melvin. "Yusi (Petit) is usually really reliable for us -- not that they hit really hard balls off him -- but three straight hits, which is a little abnormal with him. ... Lou has been pitching really well. Give them credit. They went the other way. They didn't try to do too much. They shot the ball the other way on the sinker and put some really good at-bats together. It felt like we didn't get an out for about an hour."
Melvin did consider turning to closer Liam Hendriks in that eighth inning but ultimately didn't want to use him for a five-out save.
"I had him up," Melvin said. "If we got one more out, I was going to use him for four (outs). I wasn't comfortable with five, especially because we're in a tie game at that point in time too when we bring in Lou, so it just didn't make any sense to do that."
Of course, any major-league bullpen needs more than one pitcher a manager can rely on. While Oakland's pen has obviously had its share of struggles this season, it appeared to be returning to form in the last few weeks. The question now is whether this was just one bad night or a cause for deeper concern.
"It's just one game," said A's starter Chris Bassitt, who allowed two runs in 5 2/3 innings. "We can try to make this a huge deal kind of thing, but it's just one game. Lick your wounds, come in tomorrow and do your job."
Melvin echoed that sentiment.
"I think we just have to move on," he said. "Now it was pretty extreme. What did they get, seven or eight hits in a row or something like that? Maybe a walk mixed in there too. (That) doesn't happen often, so you've got to give them some credit too. I think we've just got to move on from this one. We've played pretty well up to this point. We just had basically a bad inning today."
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The A's have now blown 23 saves this season, tied for the most in the American League. Oakland has also lost seven games when leading after seven innings, compared to just two all of last year.
Still, as Melvin noted, the team has played excellent baseball on this homestand, entering Sunday's finale with a 6-2 record against some of the league's best teams. But you have to wonder if and when all of these blown leads will start to take a toll on the bullpen's confidence.