CLEVELAND _ Perhaps the arrival of interleague play will be the shakeup the A's need to steer things back in the right direction.

They wobble into Turner Field today for the start of a three-game series against the Atlanta Braves, the final leg of a nine-game road trip that to this point can only be described as discouraging.

The Cleveland Indians made it a three-game sweep Thursday afternoon at Progressive Field, notching a 4-2 victory before a crowd of 26,764.

If you're looking for a silver lining, the A's avoided a third straight shutout, though their runs came courtesy of a throwing error by Indians starter Aaron Laffey and a wild pitch by reliever Masa Kobayashi.

The A's hitting woes have followed them across state borders and time zones. Exclude Sunday's 12-run outburst against the Texas Rangers, and they've scored a total of six runs in the other five games against Texas and Cleveland.

Against the Tribe, the A's advanced a runner as far as third base in just three of 27 innings.

"We're a little down, you know," A's third baseman Jack Hannahan said. "We didn't play very good in Texas, and we're not getting big hits. We need to get hits for these pitchers. We'll bounce back in Atlanta. We're not down and out by any means."

But they're certainly scrambling to recapture the good vibes they built before losing five of their past six. They're 23-19 after climbing to a season-best eight games above .500 at the conclusion of their last homestand.

As poor as their offense was most of Thursday, the A's had a solid shot at tying the game in the ninth, when they came to bat trailing 4-1. Rafael Betancourt allowed singles to Jack Cust and Bobby Crosby and walked Hannahan to load the bases with one out.

Kobayashi entered the game and uncorked a wild pitch to score Cust and make it 4-2, moving the tying runs into scoring position. But Kobayashi struck out a pair of pinch hitters, Mike Sweeney and Ryan Sweeney, to end the game.

A's starter Greg Smith (2-3) struggled through command issues, running his pitch count to 102 and failing to get through the fifth inning. He allowed three runs on seven hits in 4 2/3 innings. Though he struck out seven, he walked three and hit a batter.

"My fastball didn't locate well at times, and at other times, it just wasn't there," Smith (2-3) said. "I felt good with my cutter and good with my curve ball. It was my fastball and change-up, really."

The A's tied it 1-1 in the second, as Rob Bowen hit a tapper to the left side and Laffey (2-2) threw the ball into right field, allowing Crosby to score. That ended the scoreless streak for Indians starting pitchers at 44 1/3 consecutive innings.

A key to the A's success in the season's opening weeks was their rotating cast of offensive heroes. Whenever certain hitters went cold, somebody else would heat up just in time to pick up the slack.

Right now, everyone in the lineup is shouldering some blame.

"We have a few guys who are struggling a little bit," A's manager Bob Geren said. "When you have some young players, they're going to have ups and downs. We have to encourage guys when they're going through a rough spot to get back to (the right) approach, not try too hard."

It will be a test for the A's to weather this storm. They now encounter a Braves pitching staff that entered Thursday leading the National League in ERA (3.61).

When the A's return home, they get three games against the surprising Tampa Bay Devil Rays followed by three more against the Boston Red Sox.

"The message, really, to the players is that there's always ups and downs," Geren said. "Work on your daily approach, your mental approach. You look at short-term goals. I said that in spring training."

CLEVELAND _ The A's managed to score a couple of runs off the red-hot Cleveland Indians' pitching staff, but Oakland's ninth-inning rally fell short and it wound up getting swept after a 4-2 loss on Thursday afternoon.

An unearned run against Aaron Laffey caused by his own throwing error ended the scoreless streak by Indians' starters at 44 1/3 innings but didn't interrupt their string of dominant outings.

Laffey pitched the Indians to the victory over the Oakland, completing a three-game sweep and giving the surging Indians eight victories in 10 games.

Oakland has lost five of six after winning four straight. The A's loaded the bases with one out in the ninth against Rafael Betancourt. Masa Kobayashi relieved and threw a run-scoring wild pitch, then struck out pinch-hitter Mike Sweeney, who pumped a fist in frustration. Kobayashi then fanned pinch-hitter Ryan Sweeney for his second save in two chances.

Rookie Greg Smith (2-3) gave up three run, seven hits and three walks in 4 2/3 innings, striking out seven. He has lost three straight decisions.

In the rotation because of an injury to Jake Westbrook, Laffey (2-2) allowed just the unearned run and five hits in seven innings, struck out six and walked one. He lowered his ERA to 1.35 and has gone seven innings in each of his last three starts without giving up an earned run.

Cleveland's scoreless streak, which began last Friday, ended in the second when Laffey charged Rob Bowen's weak grounder and threw it into right field, allowing Bobby Crosby to score from second.

The streak was the longest by Cleveland's starters since Bob Lemon, Gene Bearden, Sam Zoldak and Satchel Paige strung together 47 scoreless innings in August 1948 _ all threw complete game shutouts.

It was the longest by a major league team in one season since a 54-inning streak by Baltimore's starters from Sept. 1-7, 1974, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

Jhonny Peralta homered for the Indians, who on Wednesday moved into the AL Central lead for the first time since the opening week of the season Ryan Garko's RBI double in the first was offset by the unearned run, which ended a streak of 24 scoreless innings for the A's in Cleveland.

Ben Francisco and Travis Hafner put Cleveland ahead 3-1 with RBI singles in the third, and Peralta homered in the seventh off Santiago Casilla, who shook his pitching hand and left after facing only one batter.

NOTES: The Indians won the season series 5-4. ... A's 2B Mark Ellis remains day to day with a strained left hamstring. ... Hafner got his seventh career stolen base in the fifth inning.