OAKLAND -- After a day of disconcerting injury developments, it seemed only fitting that the increasingly nicked-up A's also would take a nasty lump on the noggin from the Los Angeles Angels on Sunday night.
After Oakland had taken the first two games of an important three-game series in fairly thrilling fashion, the Angels pounded Scott Kazmir for 10 hits and seven runs in a 9-4 romp before another sellout Coliseum crowd of 36,067.
But the game was almost an afterthought to the A's latest training room casualties. Closer Sean Doolittle was placed on the 15-day disabled list after an MRI exam revealed an intercostal strain in his right rib cage, and he'll be lost to the club for an uncertain length of time. Catcher John Jaso, meanwhile, is headed to the seven-day concussion D.L. after experiencing adverse symptoms from a hard foul tip he incurred in a game nearly two weeks ago.
Third baseman Josh Donaldson didn't play Sunday after he tweaked his left knee in his final at-bat Saturday night, and while an MRI exam did not reveal any structural damage, it's uncertain whether he'll be ready to return to the lineup Monday when the club begins a seven-game trip in Houston.
During the loss, outfielder Sam Fuld jammed his left knee slamming into the center field wall trying to catch Erick Aybar's drive in the second inning. Fuld probably prevented a three-run homer but couldn't snare the ball. It went for a two-run double that ignited the Angels on a scoring binge that had them up 8-0 after four innings.
The A's have other health issues. They're still missing their starting shortstop, Jed Lowrie, who has a fractured index finger. Backup infielder Nick Punto is nursing a hamstring pull. First baseman Kyle Blanks is done for the season after being placed on the 60-day disabled list with Achilles tendinitis.
And even though they're still playing, Stephen Vogt is hobbled by a foot injury that precludes him from catching, Josh Reddick is wearing a brace on his right knee, and Coco Crisp is bothered by a neck problem.
In short, the A's are in a world of hurt right now, even though they trail the Angels by a mere game in the standings.
"It's several guys, and key guys," said manager Bob Melvin. "We just got (Craig) Gentry back, and now we've got a couple more. It's just something we're going to have to deal with."
The front office is frantically trying to counter with reinforcements. The A's acquired veteran catcher Geovany Soto on Sunday from the Texas Rangers in a straight cash transaction -- Soto will join the club in Houston -- and they reportedly have claimed 31-year-old Tampa Bay shortstop Yunel Escobar on revocable waivers. The A's and Rays have until Tuesday to work out a deal on Escobar.
The game itself didn't improve the somber mood in the A's clubhouse. Kazmir (14-6) simply didn't have it from the outset despite getting out of the first inning unscathed on six pitches. He gave up leadoff hits in the first four innings and couldn't get the ball down. He paid the price with the two-run double to Aybar in a three-run second inning, and again in the third on Josh Hamilton's two-run homer to right field. After giving up two more hits to start the fourth, the left-hander was done.
"He just made some mistakes, some balls were up, and he just missed his location a few times," said Melvin. "I have to give him a little bit of a break, though, the way he's pitched for us this season."
Kazmir was very disappointed in his performance.
"There were some situations where I could have taken control a little bit, I'd throw two strikes and get ahead of a guy, then just throw a ball right down the middle," he said. "I felt like I just wasn't aggressive enough. I was trying to trick people out there instead of focusing on establishing my fastball."
After Mike Trout hit his 29th home run, off Jesse Chavez in the sixth to make it 9-0, the A's did stage a mild rally. Alberto Callaspo hit his fourth homer, a two-run shot, in the seventh, and Andy Parrino hit his first two batters later against Angels starter Jered Weaver (14-7), who nonetheless did his job with six innings of four-hit shutout ball before the A's broke through.
Now Oakland has to hope it can survive in Houston before a four-game rematch with the Angels in Anaheim starting Thursday.
"It's not even about series anymore, it's every game," said Melvin. "We've got less than 35 games (33, to be exact). So no game is more or less important than any other now that we're playing in our division. We have to bear down every game."
Follow Carl Steward on Twitter at twitter.com/stewardsfolly.
A's (Jeff Samardzija 5-10) at Houston (Scott Feldman 7-9), 5:10 p.m. CSNCA
Strained side muscle sends closer Doolittle to the disabled list. PAGE 6
A.L. WEST RACE
Team W L PCT. GB
Angels 77 52 .597 --
A's 76 53 .589 1