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A's fall in 12 innings on walk-off homer

A's fall in 12 on walk-off homer

TORONTO -- Saturday's game for Oakland was one that shined a light on one of the club's glaring weaknesses this year -- power.

While the A's bullpen performed admirably yet again, the offense could not provide much support as Oakland dropped a 4-2, walk-off affair to the Blue Jays in 12 innings at Rogers Centre.

Toronto first baseman Lyle Overbay launched a two-run, game-winning homer off Oakland reliever Dan Giese into the right-center-field stands, sending 21,698 into a roar.

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But one has to wonder if those same fans could have been quieted and sent home much earlier had Oakland (5-6) been able to put up a home run before the home team did. After all, in low-scoring, extra-inning contests such as Saturday's contest, long balls often make the difference.

Despite the fact that the A's have hit a Major League-low three long balls this season, manager Bob Geren is not worried.

"We've got a history of guys with 30-plus homers, so we're going to hit them," Geren said. "They're going to hit homers. They're healthy, so no concern in that aspect."

Last year, Oakland ranked 25th in baseball with 125 home runs, yet second baseman Mark Ellis believes this year's club is better.

"We are a lot better offensively," Ellis said. "This was just a bad game. It's only 11 games into the season."

While the Oakland hitters certainly couldn't produce homers, they could not do much else either, garnering just five hits all day against Toronto (9-4) pitchers.

"Five hits in 12 innings is not going to win too many games," Geren said.

Oakland first baseman Jason Giambi broke a 1-1 tie in the sixth inning with an RBI double into right field that plated Ryan Sweeney. Those two also factored into the A's other run, when Sweeney singled and later reached home on Giambi's groundout in the first. But that was all for Oakland at the plate.

After Giambi put Oakland up in the sixth, the Jays were able to come right back and tie the game in their half of the frame against A's starter Trevor Cahill. Overbay led off with a double, advanced to second on Rod Barajas' sacrifice bunt and then scored on a single by Travis Snider, knotting the game, 2-2.

Cahill -- who was making just his third Major League start -- could not record his first career victory, instead earning a no-decision. Cahill allowed 11 baserunners, but for the most part was able to navigate through the jams.

The right-hander surrendered two runs on five hits over 5 1/3 innings. He walked five, and also hit a batter.

Cahill's pitching line could have looked a lot worse had it not been for a sparkling defensive gem by Oakland shortstop Orlando Cabrera. In the fourth inning, with one run having already scored, Cahill was faced with a two-out, bases-loaded situation. Aaron Hill then grounded a ball far to Cabrera's right, but the shortstop flagged it down and fired a laser to first, ending the inning.

"I thought it was a base hit," Cahill said. "I was just hoping he'd knock it down at least, and then he got up and fired it over there. I couldn't believe it."

Aside from Cabrera's defense, the other positive that emerged from Saturday's game was the dominance of the Oakland bullpen, yet again. Even though Giese -- who was just recalled on Saturday to the club after Jerry Blevins was sent down to Triple-A -- took the loss, the relief corps still hung extremely tough.

Before Overbay's home run against the right-handed reliever, the A's bullpen had combined to toss 6 1/3 innings of scoreless relief. In total during the club's series in Toronto, Oakland relievers have combined to yield just two runs in 11 1/3 innings.

It is important that the A's do not become too reliant on their bullpen, though, or the group could face over-exhaustion this early in the season. Oakland's young starting rotation has been unable to go at least six innings in three of their last four starts.

"This whole season, [the bullpen has] been pretty much lights-out," Cahill said. "I think it's time for the starters to kind of pick the relievers up, because they've been putting up zeros there for a while now."

Geren, meanwhile, is waiting for the offense and bullpen to work in unison.

"I'm real happy with them," Geren said of the relievers. "Right now, the pitching's been actually performing a little better than the offense, so you have to be patient.

"When the offense gets going with the pitching we've been getting, it's going to be a good combination."

David Singh is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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