CLEVELAND -- For five innings, Joe Blanton went toe-to-toe against the Cleveland Indians' hard-hitting lineup. After retiring the side in order in the first, Blanton battled out of jams in the next four innings to keep Friday night's game tied at 1. However, the A's right-hander, who had won his last three starts, had an inkling something bad was about to happen.
"When you have four or five tough innings in a row, it will catch up to you," he said. It finally did catch up to Blanton and the A's in the sixth when he gave up solo home runs on back-to-back pitches to Ryan Garko and Jhonny Peralta. The blasts broke the tie and sent the A's to a 4-3 defeat, their fifth straight loss. Blanton, who was also battling Indians starter Fausto Carmona, blamed himself for the first homer, a high slider to Garko. He gave credit to Peralta for the second one. "The first one was bad location," he said. "The second one, he did a nice job of hitting. He went the other way. It wasn't like I threw it down the middle and he yanked it." Not only had Blanton won all three of his September starts, he had won six of his last seven decisions and hadn't lost since Aug. 25. He gave up four runs and 10 hits in 5 2/3 innings. Blanton struck out four, walked three and threw 106 pitches. "He's been consistent all season," A's manager Bob Geren said. "He's been one of the best pitchers in the league." Unfortunately for the A's, Carmona also has been one of the best pitchers in the league. "He threw a good game," Geren said. "He leads the league in ERA, and he pitched like it today. His fastball has tremendous movement on it. He's a good one." The A's, whose first run scored on Kurt Suzuki's second-inning single, drew to within one on Jack Cust's two-run homer off Rafael Perez in the seventh. The home run scored Daric Barton, who doubled with one out. It looked like the A's would get more later that inning, but Grady Sizemore ran down Dan Johnson's drive at the wall in center. Cust has six homers and 17 RBIs in eight games against the Indians this season. He's batting .419 (13-for-31) against Cleveland in 2007. The A's mounted a threat in the ninth against Indians closer Joe Borowski. Shannon Stewart singled with one out, but Barton and Cust struck out to end the game . The A's put together a rally against Carmona in the second. After Jack Hannahan drew a two-out walk, Marco Scutaro singled to left. Suzuki grounded a single up the middle that scored Hannahan. The A's had a chance for more when Jeff DaVanon singled to load the bases, but Stewart hit into a fielder's choice. Blanton gave up a run in the third when Victor Martinez doubled to right-center on a 2-0 pitch, which scored Asdrubal Cabrera. Blanton worked out of a big jam in the fifth, at Martinez's expense. One-out singles by Cabrera and Travis Hafner placed runners at first and third, but Blanton made a big pitch to the Indians' RBI leader. Martinez hit a weak roller to second baseman Mark Ellis, who started a 4-6-3 double play to end the inning. "I was trying to keep the ball down in the zone," Blanton said. "I got exactly what I was trying to get there -- a ground ball. Luckily, he hit it right at somebody." Barton was 2-for-4 with two doubles. He has hit in five straight games and has reached base safely in all 11 games he has played in.
Steve Herrick is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.