SAN DIEGO — The A's scored a combined 13 runs in beating the San Diego Padres on Friday and Saturday.
That they waited until Dallas Braden was pitching to crawl into an offensive shell wasn't surprising. The left-hander once again pitched well enough to win Sunday afternoon, only to have the A's bats go silent in a 4-1 loss before 27,249 fans at Petco Park.
Braden entered the game with the American League's third-lowest run support at 3.72 per outing. Sunday was the eighth time in 15 starts this season that the A's scored one run or less for him. He fell to 5-6 but allowed just two runs in seven innings, lowering his ERA to 3.26.
"Position players, it seems like we always pick one pitcher to do that to the whole year," A's shortstop Orlando Cabrera said. "It happens on every team. It's nothing on purpose. We always try. (Braden) keeps us in the game."
Padres right-hander Kevin Correia, the former Giant, and three relievers combined on a two-hitter, facing just three batters over the minimum.
Correia (4-5) didn't allow a base runner until Cabrera's double with two outs in the fifth. He struck out seven with one walk in 62/3 innings.
Braden, batting in a game for just the second time in his career, was treated to the same experience as the A's regular hitters.
"He threw me a curveball and slider," Braden said of Correia. "I don't even think he knew I was up to bat. He was dealing."
Braden struck out looking in the third, but it was his at-bat in the sixth inning that had friends texting him afterward. He nearly beat out a tapper back to Correia, and came out of his right cleat as he approached first base.
"(Former A's pitcher) Dan Meyer said I had some really good swings — on deck," Braden said.
The A's pulled to within 2-1 in the seventh when Ryan Sweeney's double fell just out of the reach of Padres left fielder Kyle Blanks, allowing Jack Cust to score from first.
But San Diego added two crucial insurance runs in the eighth. Kevin Kouzmanoff hit a towering two-run homer to left off Russ Springer, who had just been summoned to relieve Craig Breslow with two outs.
Springer had gone six straight outings without allowing a run, but first batters are 7-for-12 with a walk against him over his past 13 outings. He's allowed an AL-high four homers to first batters on the season.
Cust, Matt Holliday and Jason Giambi — the A's 2-4 hitters — went a combined 0-for-10, and Holliday has cooled considerably since a prolonged hot streak. He's hitting .180 (9-for-50) over his past 14 games with just two RBI.
He remains front and center in trade speculation, however, as probably the best hitter available if the A's decide to shop him.
They missed a chance to pick up another game on the first-place Texas Rangers, who were swept in a three-game series by the Giants. Oakland remains seven games back in the AL West.
The A's finished 3-6 on a National League road swing that began by getting swept in San Francisco. They dropped two of three to the Los Angeles Dodgers — all the games were decided by one run — then recovered to take two of three from San Diego.
"The San Francisco series we didn't score (enough), but the other series were fun, competitive games," manager Bob Geren said.
Contact Joe Stiglich at firstname.lastname@example.org.