Blanton struggles, A's fall in Cleveland

Blanton struggles, A's fall in Cleveland

CLEVELAND -- Manager Ken Macha had a simple summation of the A's 11-2 loss to the Indians Wednesday night.

"It was one of those nights they put a whipping on our starter and we didn't score any runs for him," he said.

That certainly was the case. Fresh off his first career shutout in his last start against Kansas City, Joe Blanton allowed six runs in five innings while the offense couldn't do much with Cleveland starter Paul Byrd.

"He made too many mistakes tonight," Macha said. "[Cleveland] is a very good offensive team, and he made some mistakes with his location."

Maybe some of the loss can be chalked up to the Bad Omen Department. Third baseman Eric Chavez was a late scratch from the lineup when his lower back tightened up during batting practice. This came on the same night right fielder Milton Bradley finally returned after being out since April 25 with knee and oblique injuries.

So just when it looks the A's have their regular lineup back, they don't. While Macha admitted losing Chavez, whose status for Thursday's game is up in the air, was disappointing, he said, "We've got to pitch better. That's not the reason we lost tonight."

Blanton made it through the first, but had a rocky second inning. when he gave up back-to-back homers, a three-run shot to Aaron Boone and a solo blast to Grady Sizemore.

Boone's homer came on a 2-2 slider. It hooked down the left-field line and hit the foul pole.

"It wasn't located exactly where I wanted it," Blanton said. "It was 2-2, and I don't want to go 3-2 with the leadoff hitter coming up. It caught too much of the plate. He put a real good swing on it, but it hit the foul pole. If it's two feet the other way, I still have a chance to get him."

Sizemore's homer, which came on a 1-0 fastball, was a different story as it cleared the fence in center.

"Give him a lot of credit," said Blanton, who fell to 5-6. "It was down in the zone, but he hit it to dead center. Sometimes you make the pitch you want and they hit it."

Blanton loaded the bases in the fourth on a single and two walks before Victor Martinez drove in two runs with a single to center. He allowed 10 hits, walked three, struck out three and threw 98 pitches.

"We can't go out and give up six runs in five innings," Macha said.

Right-hander Jay Witasick, making his first appearance since coming off the disabled list Tuesday, relieved Blanton to start the sixth, but retired just one of the five batters he faced in being charged with three runs in one-third of an inning. Randy Keisler gave up a solo homer to Casey Blake in the seventh while Steve Karsay gave up a solo homer to Martinez in the eighth.

The A's were blanked the first five innings. Their best chance came in the sixth. Frank Thomas' bases-loaded walk, which followed singles by Mark Kotsay, Nick Swisher and Bobby Crosby, drove in a run. Bobby Kielty, 10-for-29 with four homers in his career against Byrd, hit a hard ground ball to short, which ended up in a double play.

"We had a chance," Macha said. "Kielty hit the ball pretty well."

Marco Scutaro's double in the seventh added the A's other run.

"He pitched like he normally does," Macha said of Byrd. "He's aggressive and comes after you. He throws any pitch at any time in any part of the plate."

Bradley's return to Cleveland was uneventful. Playing his first game at Jacobs Field since being traded to the Dodgers prior to the 2004 season, he was booed in each at-bat. Bradley, responded to the boos by tipping his cap to the crowd before stepping in for his first at-bat. He had one hit -- a seventh-inning single -- in four at-bats.

Steve Herrick is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.