BALTIMORE -- A's reliever Jim Johnson is back where it all began for him in Camden Yards with a smile on his face and an ERA like an anvil weighing him down.

Closing in Baltimore the last two seasons he saved 101 games while going 5-9 with a 2.72 ERA. A sinkerball pitcher who'd allowed just eight homers in 145 games over the previous two seasons, he was thought to be a steal for the A's when the traded second baseman Jemile Weeks and catcher David Freitas (as a player to be named later) for him.

It hasn't worked that way, and Johnson came back to Baltimore Friday with a 3-2 record just two saves and a 6.26 ERA.

Did Johnson put extra pressure on himself to prove his worth to a new team?

"I put some pressure on myself; I think that's a natural instinct," he said while suggesting it wasn't much extra pressure. "It's hard not to do that."

His poor performance in the first 60 games with Oakland has been a burden. He's been as good as ever on the road, 3-0 with a 1.84 ERA, but he's 0-2 with a 14.04 ERA in the Coliseum. That's led to more booing than has been heard for a home town player in years.

Although Johnson's teammates took sides against the fans over the matter of booing, Johnson said Friday it hasn't been as bad as all that.

"Despite not pitching well, I've gotten a lot of support from the fans out in the bullpen," the right-hander said. "They are good fans, there's no malice behind it. They just want to win."

As for the home/road splits that have a Jekyll/Hyde look to them, Johnson doesn't buy into the numbers game.

"You guys tell me my stats," he said. "I don't know. Right now, I'm just trying to get outs. Early on (the problem) was walks. I feel like if I throw strikes I'm OK."

A's manager Bob Melvin said that if Johnson throws the ball like he did in one shutout inning in Yankee Stadium on Thursday, that's the recipe for success.

"You can't help but see the numbers," the manager said. "It's not like it is a real small sample size. You watch yesterday and you were going to have a tough time getting the ball in the air the way his ball was sinking."

A scout who has been following the A's for a week or so said the problem wasn't the sinker. It was the curve.

"I remember him having a nice curve, a big hammer," the scout said Friday. "You look at him lately, and he just doesn't throw it."

  • Coco Crisp was out of the lineup Friday, the second time in three games he's missed a start because of ongoing neck pain.

    And although Crisp hasn't missed a start against a right-hander since May 14 and has not made a start against a lefty since May 26 (the A's have seen three lefties since then if you count Orioles starter Wei-Yin Chen) Melvin said it's not a platoon.

    "Now it's just about trying to get a few days of rest to try and get him better," Melvin said of his switch-hitting leadoff man. "He'll feel pretty good after a day of rest, then he'll play a game and maybe take a half step back. I'm going to be a little bit more proactive in getting him some rest here.

    "There will be some days when you won't see him in the lineup. Certain days he'll feel better one way than another. It has nothing to do with the pitchers at this point."

  • The A's made a cash trade for one of their own Friday but making a cash deal with Kansas City for Justin Marks. The left-handed pitcher was the A's third-round pick in the June, 2009 draft.

    Marks was optioned to Triple-A Sacramento. He was 3-2 with a 5.4 ERA for Triple-A Omaha, but when you subtract the two starts he made, his numbers were good in relief — a 3.42 ERA and 24 strikeouts in 26.1 innings.

    To make room on the 40-man roster, Oakland designated outfielder Kent Mathes for assignment. The club now has 10 days to trade Mathes, release him or, if he clears waivers, re-sign him to a minor league deal.