OAKLAND -- Far from distraught after a messy major league debut, Giants left-hander Mike Kickham couldn't wait to try it again.
"Just to come out here and put on a jersey, it was awesome," he said. "I'm just very grateful from the opportunity. Hopefully, it goes better next time."
Kickham lasted only 21/3 wobbly innings in a 6-3 loss to the A's on Tuesday at the Coliseum. He surrendered four runs, and it could have been worse if not for the two relievers who bailed him out of a bases-loaded jam in the third inning.
Kickham's start was so brief, in fact, that it might have disrupted the Giants' short-term pitching plans. The Giants had to use four relievers, including Chad Gaudin (54 pitches) and Jose Mijares (32) for multiple innings, which means they might have to bring up a fresh arm from Fresno just to replenish the bullpen.
Bruce Bochy only said that the Giants would talk about it. The manager also stopped short of committing to Kickham for a second start, saying he would be in better position to answer such questions Wednesday.
Kickham, the ballyhooed left-hander summoned from Triple-A Fresno to replace Ryan Vogelsong (fractured hand), surrendered four runs on four hits and four walks. He threw only 36 of his 65 pitches for strikes.
Still, Kickham flashed a few hints at his potential. He touched 94 mph on the stadium radar gun a few times, struck out three of his first six hitters and unleashed an impressive sweeping slider.
"Shaky? Sure," Bochy said. "But I thought he had impressive stuff."
Catcher Buster Posey, too, had praise for the youngster, saying that Kickham "kept his composure when he got into trouble."
On this night, though, the 24-year-old needed a little more polish. Derek Norris made that clear in the second inning when the A's catcher belted a two-run home run over the left-field wall.
Kickham had not allowed a home run over any of his final five minor league starts. But Norris showed him what a major league hitter can do to a 3-and-1 fastball left over the heart of the plate.
"Mistakes here are magnified," Kickham said. "I don't get away with what I did in Triple-A."
Norris' homer gave the A's a 2-1 lead. They pushed it to 4-1 against Kickham in the third inning -- and it could have been worse. Relievers George Kontos and Javier Lopez rescued the rookie with an out apiece to leave the bases loaded.
Gaudin, who had also been a candidate to replace Vogelsong (hand fracture) in the rotation, did the heavy lifting out of the bullpen. The right-hander worked three innings, lasting two outs longer than Kickham did as the starter.
The Giants tried to help the rookie out, as Hunter Pence drove in Marco Scutaro with a single to make it 1-0 in the first inning. That ended a six-game streak in which the Giants' opponent had scored first.
As is customary lately, though, the Giants offense stalled. Posey delivered a run-scoring groundout in the sixth, and Pence blasted a 439-foot solo homer off Grant Balfour in the ninth for the only other Giants runs of the game.
Some key hitters are slumping, with the flu and at the plate. Gregor Blanco is 0 for his past 17. Pablo Sandoval is 2 for 21 over his past six games and 7 for 40 (.175) over his past 10 games.
"We've got some guys who are struggling right now," Bochy said. "But give their guys credit. They pitched well."
Bochy said Pagan is day-to-day and said the switch-hitter was available as a pinch hitter. Pagan hasn't taken a cut since his two-run inside-the-park walk-off home run Saturday.
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