OAKLAND, Calif. -- For half a century, the Orioles have been coming to the Oakland Coliseum, and have often left unhappily. Under several different names for this stadium, the struggles have been real for the Orioles.
This weekend, they thought they had an ideal opportunity to gain some ground in the American League wild card chase. Instead, they leave Oakland merely treading water.
While the Orioles won two of four games, their Aug. 11 loss was a painful one, and with Jeremy Hellickson staked to an early two-run lead, they hoped to win three of four.
Instead, the right-hander, who was making his third Orioles start, gave up six runs in five-plus innings. Hellickson split his first two Orioles decisions, and had a 2.08 ERA, and after the loss, it rose to 4.50.
Matt Chapman’s three-run home run keyed a decisive five-run fourth as the Orioles lost to the Athletics, 9-3, before 18,912.
Hellickson breezed through the first three innings, allowing just one single, but in the fourth he quickly came unglued.
"Most of the time we’re supposed to have some answers. It’s just one of those days," manager Buck Showalter said. "That was a strange … just kind of an Oakland game."
The Orioles, who are 3-4 on this 10-game West Coast swing, missed another chance to return to .500. Instead, they’re 58-60, and are now 2 1/2 games out of the second wild-card.
"I mean, every game’s big right now, so when you lose, you feel like you had to have that one," Hellickson said. "I don’t know, just frustrated right now."
After getting seven hits in the first three innings, the Orioles’ bats were relatively silent. Third baseman Manny Machado and second baseman Jonathan Schoop started the third with singles, but Athletics starter Kendall Graveman retired nine straight, and the Orioles had just four more baserunners.
One of them was Machado’s 22nd home run in the eighth. He also had a first-inning triple.
"It's just we lost, plain and simple. There's no excuses for that," third baseman Machado said.
After beginning his Orioles career with an unfathomable .531 average and nine multi-hit games in his first 12 games, shortstop Tim Beckham was held hitless in four at-bats.
Chris Tillman made his first major league relief appearance following 194 major league starts and a week of idleness in the bullpen. The right-hander retired all four batters he faced, striking out two.
"Different. Way different. It was good though," Tillman said about his initial relief appearance. "I feel like it was a step in the right direction for me. Other than that, didn’t really see much or do much. But was able to make a couple of pitches."
Because he’d faced only nine batters in August, Showalter called for his closer Zach Britton even though the Orioles trailed by five runs in the eighth.
Matt Olson homered for the third straight game. It was the first home run allowed by Britton since April 11, 2016 and the first he gave up to a left-handed batter since Seattle’s Michael Saunders hit one April 29, 2013.
The Orioles have been hovering near the .500 mark for weeks, and have been at .500 just once since June 29, and haven’t been above the break-even point since June 11.
"One day, we come out there and we play as a team, and the other day, we miss opportunities," Machado said. "We've just got to stick together, keep doing what we're doing. We've got a great team. We've got a great lineup. We've got a great pitching staff. Things haven't turned out the way we'd like them to be, but we're going to keep fighting until the end. We're not going to stop. That's the best thing we have. That's the best tool."
NOTES: Showalter says that he and executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette have yet to discuss expansion of rosters, which can occur Sept. 1. .. The Orioles open a three-game series in Seattle on Aug. 14. Right-handers Kevin Gausman (8-8, 5.21) and Yovani Gallardo (5-7, 5.38) are the scheduled starters.