Athletics blow past Diamondbacks late, Arizona on ugly 3-game losing streak

Jun 28, 2024, 11:30 PM | Updated: 11:31 pm

Zack Gelof...

Zack Gelof #20 of the Oakland Athletics gestures to his dugout after hitting an RBI triple against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the eighth inning at Chase Field on June 28, 2024 in Phoenix, Arizona. Athletics won 9-4. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)

(Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)

PHOENIX — Arizona Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo felt he had a win locked up with a 4-3 lead over the Oakland Athletics and his team’s best two relievers ready to go.

Instead, Oakland managed to put up six runs over the final two innings to blow past the D-backs, 9-4.

Arizona (39-43) is on an ugly three-game losing streak by a combined score of 30-13, getting out-hit 41-20 in this stretch. The A’s (30-54), meanwhile, snapped a five-game losing skid.

“Starting pitching needs to be better,” Lovullo said of this stretch. “You look at what we have absorbed. I think what it was, it was four (innings) today, three yesterday, three the day before. That isn’t going to be good for us to win baseball games. … We’re in a little bit of a rut right now. We can’t feel sorry for ourselves. We gotta find a way to do it tomorrow.”

Slade Cecconi gave the Diamondbacks four innings with three earned runs, Arizona’s third straight game without even a five-inning start.

The D-backs fought back from a 3-2 deficit on a game-tying solo shot by Lourdes Gurriel Jr. in the sixth inning. Ketel Marte drove in the go-ahead run on a single in the seventh.

However, Ryan Thompson, who had yet to allow multiple earned runs in 43 appearances as a member of the Diamondbacks, had an off night. The A’s tagged him with three runs in the eighth inning, as Tyler Soderstrom hit a game-tying homer and Zack Gelof’s RBI triple was a backbreaker.

Thompson said he was having mechanical issues that led to misplaced pitches.

“I think I was flying open a little bit, my momentum and delivery was a little bit quick, so I was trying to slow down a little bit,” Thompson said. “I was just trying to get my release point to be ready to throw at foot strike. The small little things I was doing with how I was feeling, it just wasn’t clicking. Of course, right when you get in front of a mirror when you step off that mound, you’re like, ‘Okay, that’s it.'”

Thompson said he watches a lot of tape and works in the mirror to find fixes when the mechanics don’t feel right. The Diamondbacks had not lost a game in which Thompson pitches since May 30, as he has been one of the more reliable arms in MLB this year.

“It’s frustrating to fix it after I get off the field, but it’s better than not fixing it at all,” Thompson said.

Down by two runs and with budding star Mason Miller in the other bullpen, Lovullo opted for Brandon Hughes instead of closer Paul Sewald. The A’s teed off on Hughes with three home runs in the inning to end any chance of a comeback.

“I didn’t want to cash (Sewald) in unless it was a little bit closer than two runs,” Lovullo said.

Nine of Arizona’s last 11 losses have come by five or more runs.

Slade Cecconi trying to find that balance

Cecconi had a lot going for him on Friday. He produced 19 whiffs, 16 on his secondary pitches and multiple on each of his weapons. That was the third-most whiffs from a D-backs starter this season and a career high for Cecconi. He said that aspect was encouraging, and he struck out seven batters.

The 24-year-old also struggled to finish off hitters efficiently, which impacted his ability to pitch deep into the game.

Walks have not been his issue this year (4.1%), but they bit him on Friday. Cecconi walked two batters in the third inning who both came around to score on weak hits. A leadoff walk to Gelof on an 0-2 count was particularly nagging, as he delivered 34 pitches in one frame.

“Wanted to go deeper into that game and the pitch count was not where we wanted it,” Cecconi said after throwing 88 pitches.

“Even the strikeouts were seven-, eight-pitch (at-bats). I was happy with getting the swing-and-miss. … It’s encouraging to see myself executing pitches at a higher frequency, but I want to win baseball games and I want to go deep into games. It’s really frustrating sometimes when that doesn’t happen.”

Zac Gallen to return Saturday

Zac Gallen will return from the 15-day injured list (hamstring) to start Saturday’s game, Lovullo announced postgame.

Lovullo had all but said this was going to be the case for a couple days, but he finally confirmed the “worst kept secret.”

The A’s will start left-hander Hogan Harris.

With Gallen and Brandon Pfaadt probable the next two days, Arizona needs to take this opportunity to recover the series against a last-place team before a tough road trip at the Dodgers and Padres.

First pitch is at 1:10 p.m. on 98.7 and the Arizona Sports app. 

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