OAKLAND — A's manager Bob Melvin has seen his team's lead in the AL West Division shrink by 3½ games the past week. Nothing to worry about, he says. The A's were in a worse position at this time last year.
"When you're in first place, the last thing you want to do is play to hold onto the lead," Melvin said. "We have to play like we are five games behind and not get caught up in the standings."
The A's lost another game off their lead Sunday when Derek Holland threw eight shutout innings and the Texas Rangers took the series with a 4-0 victory.
The A's have been in first place since July 1, and held a six-game lead a week ago. That lead is down to 2½ games entering today's off day.
"We're having a tough time putting two games together in a row," Melvin said. "We've been in a little bit of a rut, whether it's our defense, whether it's our pitching at times, or we haven't been timely as far as that goes."
The A's committed two errors and were limited to five hits on Sunday. A.J. Griffin pitched a solid game, but allowed two more home runs, giving him a major-league leading 28. The A's are hitting .214 over their last 21 games.
"We do have the guys with the ability to take care of that," Melvin said. "We're confident we will. We just need to sustain it. Not just one game here and one game there. We need to get on a roll with it and then we can put this period past us."
Nate Freiman had two hits for the A's, who have lost four of five.
Griffin (10-8) lasted 6²⁄³ innings, allowing four runs — three earned — on five hits. He walked one and struck out seven.
"It's just two pitches every game," Griffin said. "I feel like I pitched real well all game. Then Moreland hits a home run. That's the way it goes. I don't worry about our lineup. The little slump, it's going to pass and we're going to go out there and rake. We're going to turn the corner here."