Ziegler's command issues cost A's

Ziegler's command issues cost A's

SEATTLE -- When Brad Ziegler entered Tuesday's game against the Mariners, he made it no secret he was laboring with a rare lack of command.

Perhaps even less of a secret, though, was Milton Bradley's offensive struggles coming into his eighth-inning at-bat against the A's righty with runners on first and second in a scoreless contest.

Bradley, who carried with him a 2-for-25 funk to the plate, recently met with Seattle manager Don Wakamatsu to relay a sense of pressure he felt to guide a rather lackluster lineup.

Needless to say, the 18,000-plus fans in attendance knew he was due. Ziegler knew, too, so he went to throw him a fastball away.

Instead, the right-handed reliever watched it go down and in before being launched over the right-field wall, resulting in a 3-0 Mariners victory over the A's, who snapped a three-game winning streak.

"The biggest mistake was going 2-0 in that situation," explained Ziegler, who moved to 0-2 on the season. "I don't think it's a terrible matchup for me, but when he's ahead in the count, it's a really bad spot for me to be in."

Following a quick two outs in the seventh, the pitcher opened eighth by surrendering a base hit to Jose Lopez and a walk to Mike Sweeney.

"Giving up the hit to Lopez, I can tolerate that," he said. "But there's no excuse to walk Sweeney right after that. It's a good situation to get a guy who has an injury past and doesn't run well to get a double-play ball, but the fact that I couldn't even put the ball in play is pretty terrible.

"About 90 percent of the pitches I threw tonight were not where I wanted. I was working behind hitters. ... I don't know. It was just one of those nights I didn't have good command. I tried to go away on lefties and would throw it in, and I tried to go in on righties, but I'd go too far in."

As a result, A's starter Brett Anderson's six-inning shutout performance went for naught. The lefty gave up just six hits and walked two while fanning six in the no-decision. In the process, he became the first pitcher in Oakland history, among those who started the year with the A's, to not allow a run in his first two starts.

"Brett was pretty sharp," manager Bob Geren said. "I thought he had an outstanding breaking ball. They did get a couple hits off him, but each time he got in a jam, he got out of them. Obviously, to give up zero runs makes it an understatement to say he pitched well enough to win."

In his last six starts, Anderson is 4-1 with a 1.01 ERA and 35 strikeouts. He found himself out of several jams on Tuesday thanks to a reliable go-to slider, but he also found himself rather fatigued in the sixth, when he walked two, hit a batter and recorded a wild pitch -- the first of his career.

"I thought I did a good job of getting outs when I needed to and picking up key strikeouts in key situations," said Anderson, who threw 107 pitches. "Obviously, it was a little more of a grind than the last time I faced them, but you kind of expect that when you're facing the same team in your first two starts. They did a good job battling and getting my pitch count up."

Seattle starter Doug Fister matched Anderson inning for inning, but he did the A's lefty two better as a result of keeping his pitch count down. The right-hander improved to 1-1 on the season after limiting Oakland to just three hits and no walks while striking out four.

"He obviously overshadowed my performance. It wasn't even close," Anderson said. "He was unbelievable tonight. We really didn't have a chance."

Added Geren: "I haven't seen Fister a lot, but that was, by far, the best I've seen him. Hitters just seemed to say they didn't get much to hit. He used all of his pitches effectively."

Tuesday's affair marked the first time this season the A's didn't score a run. They entered the game ranking second in the Majors in runs scored with 43. However, it was the fifth time they had been shut out at Safeco Field, where they've lost 13 of their last 15 games played.

Jane Lee is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.