OAKLAND -- It appears the swoon of June is rapidly enveloping the A's, 7-0 losers to the New York Yankees on Friday night.
Four of the most potent bats in the A's lineup in May -- John Jaso, Josh Donaldson, Brandon Moss and Jed Lowrie -- came into Friday the Thirteenth riding the skids. Combined their slides amounted to a ghastly 3 for 79 (.038) -- 0 for 14 for Jaso; 0 for 23 for Donaldson; 1 for 23 for Lowrie; and 2 for 19 for Moss.
Things didn't improve much against Yankees starter David Phelps and the New York bullpen as the A's scratched out just two hits, including a Lowrie double, as Oakland lost for the third time in four games.
Jaso, Donaldson, Moss and Lowrie were a combined 1 for 13 on Friday, not that the rest of the lineup (1 for 15) was any more competitive.
"I guess they say hitting is contagious," Moss said. "A few of us now are struggling a little bit right now."
The A's were held to two hits or less for just the third time this season, getting two at Houston on April 27 and getting one at Tampa Bay (a game they won) on May 21.
Manager Bob Melvin said some of it was Phelps, whose sinker and slider were about as on-target as they've been all season. And some of it was the Oakland hitters, who usually force opposing starting pitchers to throw too many pitches early but weren't successful at that Friday.
"We've got to keep grinding," Melvin said. "Usually we're good at making pitchers work, but we've been in a bit of a funk for the last week or so."
And while the A's are still 40-27 and lead the American League West by 3½ games over the Los Angeles Angels, Oakland is just 6-5 in June while being held to one run or less four times in 11 games. That's troubling for a team that has outscored the opposition by a major league-best 123 runs for the season.
Phelps came in throwing strikes and hitting the corners, setting down the first 10 batters he faced in succession before Jaso walked with one out in the fourth.
"We made him throw more pitches than he wanted, a lot of balls," Moss said. "But every time he got to a three-ball count, it seemed there were two strikes, too, and we weren't able to capitalize."
One of the keys to A's starter Sonny Gray's success this season has been his ability to get off to quick starts. He wasn't able to do that on Friday the 13th as the Yankees, a team he'd never faced before, became the first team this season to have their first three batters reach base against Gray.
New York scored twice in the first, once again in the second and then put it in cruise control until scoring four two-out runs off Jeff Francis in the eighth.
"They were able to put a lot of balls in play," Gray said. "They were aggressive and put some good swings together."
Seven of the first 11 Yankees batters reached base, three of them scoring. After that, however, Gray retired the next 13 batters in succession and 14 of the last 15 he faced.
"The last few times out, the early innings have been a problem for him," Melvin said of Gray. "The good news for us is that after that, he settled in and was able to give us six innings despite this being one of his most difficult starts."
And with the A's not hitting, that difficulty translated into the first two-game losing streak of the season for Gray, now 6-3 with a 2.93 ERA, an almost full-point rise from where it was four starts ago (1.99).
N.Y. Yankees (Hiroki Kuroda 4-4) at A's (Scott Kazmir 7-2), 7:05 p.m. CSNCA