OAKLAND — A's left-hander Greg Smith stood before reporters following Saturday's 2-1 defeat to the Chicago White Sox and offered an apology of sorts to his teammates for not pitching deeper into the game.
Considering the lack of run support he's received all season, perhaps the apologies should have been flowing the other direction. The A's once again put men on base and managed to not drive them in, less than 24 hours after banging out four homers in Friday night's thrilling comeback win.
They squandered bases-loaded opportunities in consecutive innings Saturday and went 2-for-10 with runners in scoring position, making it 17 times in Smith's 24 starts that he's received two runs or less.
Not that Smith (5-12), who hasn't won at McAfee Coliseum since May 27, was looking to pass the blame. He gave up just two runs but was hit hard and lasted just five innings, struggling with his command for a second straight outing.
"Our bullpen has been throwing a lot," he said. "You try to give them (some rest). I should be able to go more than five innings. I didn't throw too well."
Smith, 24, doesn't need a calendar to know these are the dog days of August. His body is telling him. The rookie has thrown 1422/3 innings. The most he logged in any single minor league season was 881/3.
The A's have indicated they're monitoring Smith's workload closely as the season winds down. He threw 100 pitches Saturday but he had thrown more than 95 just once in his previous six outings.
Smith said he's battling the overall fatigue that comes with a full major league season. He walked seven in his previous start in Detroit and worked deep into counts Saturday.
"It's getting late in the season," he said. "Maybe it's a little bit of fatigue. You don't notice it. Your legs feel like they're underneath you. But you've got seven months of baseball under you now."
Smith hardly was the reason the A's failed to win back-to-back games for the first time since July 10-11. They managed just six hits off John Danks (10-5) and three White Sox relievers.
"He ran his pitch count up quick," A's manager Bob Geren said of Smith. "But he did keep us in the game. You've got to give him credit for that."
Chicago got all of the offense it needed in the second. Paul Konerko led off with a double and came around to score on Juan Uribe's one-out double to left. Toby Hall followed with an RBI single to right-center.
The A's made it 2-1 in the third when Emil Brown's single drove in Kurt Suzuki, who led off with a double. But that inning should have produced more.
The A's loaded the bases with no outs, but Frank Thomas wandered too far off the bag at third and was doubled off on Bobby Crosby's soft liner to Uribe at third to deflate the opportunity.
Thomas came up again with the bases loaded and one out in the fourth. Danks coaxed him to ground into another double play started by Uribe. Thomas has just two RBI in 14 games since coming off a two-month stay on the disabled list and admitted he's a little impatient at the plate.
"I'm seeing a lot of change-ups, a lot of sliders," he said. "I'm aggressive right now. I've missed so much time, I'm trying to make up for it. Sometimes you've got to idle it down a little bit."
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