OAKLAND — This is a week when the Oakland Athletics could really use some momentum. The first-place Los Angeles Angels are coming to the Coliseum for a key weekend series in the heart of the stretch run.
Instead, the A’s are still searching for answers to their funk and settled for a split with the New York Mets in their quick two-game interleague series following Wednesday’s 8-5 loss.
“We have an off day (Thursday) to clear our heads,” said Oakland manager Bob Melvin. “We know it will be an exciting series and a big series coming up. It should be a big crowd and so forth, so you should be able to move past what is a difficult period for us right now and play for the moment.”
Lucas Duda hit a three-run homer, and Eric Campbell also connected against Jeff Samardzija (3-3).
Zack Wheeler (9-8) allowed two earned runs while working 5 2/3 solid innings. Wheeler is 6-0 with a 2.12 ERA over his nine outings since June 30. The A’s chased him after two innings in the shortest start of his career on June 25.
The right-hander and former San Francisco Giants top prospect improved to 4-1 in his last 10 road starts.
Jeurys Familia relieved Vic Black with the bases loaded and one out in the eighth and walked in a run but avoided further damage. He finished for his fourth save.
Campbell and Duda homered during a five-run third against Samardzija (3-3).
Samardzija had been unbeaten in five previous starts at the Coliseum. Instead, he was done after 3 2/3 innings.
“Usually your team gets you five runs it ends in a victory,” Samardzija said. “A big game (Wednesday) and I didn’t do my part. It stings.”
The A’s closed to 5-2 in the third on consecutive RBI doubles by Coco Crisp and John Jaso. New York added on in the fourth with RBI singles from Curtis Granderson and Daniel Murphy.
Samardzija cruised through a 10-pitch first inning and got through the second unscathed. Acquired in a July 4 trade from the Cubs, he has never beaten the Mets in nine appearances and three starts.
“It’s just having trouble putting guys away,” Samardzija said. “Probably as simple as that.”
Oakland lost for the eighth time in 10 games. The A’s returned home from a 1-6 road trip through Kansas City and Atlanta in which they lost their last five.
Murphy’s two-run fielding error aided the A’s in the fourth. He nearly had the ball, but it skipped off his glove and then he inadvertently kicked it.
Notes: Oakland outfielder Jonny Gomes, A’s team president Michael Crowley and other club officials participated in the ice bucket challenge for ALS after the game. … A’s infielder Nick Punto, sidelined with a strained right hamstring, is in the beginning stages of running. “It’s feeling good. The strength is getting back in there,” Punto said. … Third baseman Josh Donaldson had much of the day off because “he’s a little bit tired right now,” Melvin said. Donaldson entered as a pinch hitter in the seventh and had a leadoff single. … The A’s have their second off day in a four-day stretch before opening the series with the Angels. The schedule allowed Melvin to tweak his rotation and Oakland will use its three top starters — Sonny Gray, Jon Lester and Scott Kazmir — against Los Angeles.