"It's a letdown," Geren said of losing even more ground to the Rangers while falling to 18-28. "We've won a lot of ballgames lately. We've been playing pretty good."
Aside from pretty solid starting pitching -- Josh Outman came within an out of pitching seven innings and Edgar Gonzalez bounced back after a rough first inning -- nothing went right for the A's, who came into Friday winners of five of their last nine games.
Buck hit a two-run home run in Game 1 to tie the game at 2 in the second inning. But when Cust's spot in the order came around in the third, it was Bobby Crosby, not Cust, who came to the plate. Not to slight Crosby, but Cust is the A's leading home run hitter with seven this season.
"When you lose your No. 3 hitter for both games, that puts a damper on things," Geren said.
The A's did manage to take the lead in Game 1 at 3-2 in the top of the sixth on Ryan Sweeney's one-out single. But Outman, who had bounced back with five shutout innings after allowing two runs in the first, gave up a game-tying home run to Marlon Byrd with two outs in the bottom of the seventh.
Enter Santiago Casilla, who in the bottom of the eighth undid the quality start from by Outman. After walking Josh Hamilton on four pitches, Casilla gave up a two-run home run to Andruw Jones on a 2-1 pitch, a line shot off the left-field foul pole. Casilla then turned around on a 1-2 pitch and watched as Nelson Cruz crushed a home run the opposite way into the right-field seats for a 6-3 lead.
"He had poor location and his velocity was down a couple of miles an hour," Geren said.
Game 2 went from OK to worse in the bottom of the first with the A's already fighting the Rangers with a depleted lineup.
After taking a 1-0 lead in the top of the first on Sweeney's RBI double, Gonzalez created his own mess by walking leadoff hitter Ian Kinsler and then making an errant pickoff throw to move the runner over.
Gonzalez struck out Michael Young, but Hamilton laced a double inside the left-field line to tie the game. Cruz then singled and Hank Blalock had a run-scoring double to give the Rangers a 2-1 lead.
Gonzalez still had a chance to get out of the inning with limited damage. But with two outs and runners at second and third, Geren called for an intentional walk of Davis, who struck out four times in Game 1 of the doubleheader and who had a Major League-leading 75 strikeouts entering the at-bat.
The A's wanted to face catcher Taylor Teagarden, who had a .225 batting average in 40 at-bats coming in. Teagarden lined a two-run single into left field for a 4-1 lead.
"We had a guy who has 12 home runs and two in the last week versus a guy with 40 at-bats that doesn't play that often," Geren said. "With two outs, it doesn't matter what inning. Edgar hung a slider and he [Teagarden] got a single."
Gonzalez struck out Davis in the third and fifth innings, putting the Rangers' first baseman within a strikeout of tying a Major League record for punchouts in a doubleheader.
Unfortunately for the A's, the damage had already been done. Gonzalez said after the game there's nothing he could do about walking Davis.
"It's baseball," Gonzalez said. "I have to do what the manager says."
The A's have to fight through some injuries on offense. Buck said that he has been dealing with an oblique injury since Wednesday in Seattle, and while the muscle strain doesn't bother him on most swings, it was enough a nuisance for him to tell Geren he couldn't go in Game 2 after getting three hits in Game 1.
Without Cust, that's two bats out of a lineup that is already missing Mark Ellis and Eric Chavez.
"It puts Bob in a tough spot," Buck said. "He has to do the best he can do to give us a chance to win. With two guys down it makes us very limited. It's tough to get nine guys on the field. It's definitely too bad.