OAKLAND, Calif. – Jake Fraley's broken-bat double bounced off first base and into right field and put Cincinnati ahead in the ninth inning. And just like that, yet one more backbreaking moment for the downtrodden Oakland Athletics so far in 2023.
Jeurys Familia gave up a one-run lead in the ninth and Fraley's deciding hit as the A's set a major league record of 28 games to begin a season without a win by the starting pitcher in a 3-2 loss Saturday.
A's starter Kyle Muller tossed five innings and was in line to finally break the streak. But Familia (0-1) walked Henry Ramos, surrendered Kevin Newman’s single, then walked Nick Senzel. Fraley delivered one out later.
A's manager Mark Kotsay touched on all the difficulties in keeping things going in late April and now dealing with a bad-luck bounce.
“Having a play that if the ball doesn’t hit the base and the ball goes in his glove we win the game, I’m sitting here with a different kind of attitude and reaction,” Kotsay said. "Thus is life, right? When you’re hit with the biggest challenges, it’s how you respond to them and how you stand up to those challenges that make you a better person. Hopefully, you learn from those experiences and move forward.”
Cincinnati's Casey Legumina (1-0) pitched the eighth for his first major league win and Alexis Díaz earned his fourth save.
“It's unreal. It's a great atmosphere coming back in especially after a hard-fought game. We were down most of the game,” Legumina said. “To be able to come back late and take the win, it's a lot of fun for the guys.”
Luke Maile homered leading off the third for the Reds, who have won five straight on the heels of a season-worst six-game losing streak.
The A's starters have gone 0-15 while surpassing the 2022 Pirates for the longest streak to start a season without a win by the starter — it's also a franchise record, too. Washington holds the longest streak ever at 43 consecutive games without a win by the starting pitcher, set last but not at the season's start.
Ramón Laureano returned from an 11-game absence with a strained left groin and immediately showed off his speed and sensational throwing arm, leading one of Oakland's best defensive days in a so-far dismal season but it was for naught.
With runners on first and second after a pair of singles to start the Reds' second, Laureano chased down a high fly in foul territory by Newman and fired to third for a spectacular double play.
In another defensive move, A's third baseman Jace Peterson turned an unassisted double play on Stuart Fairchild's liner to end the third.
Reliever Richard Lovelady induced José Barrero's inning-ending double play in the seventh with runners on first and second.
Reds manager David Bell credited his group for sticking with it at the plate during a tough hitting day until things eventually worked out.
“Sometimes these are the best games, you just keep grinding it out,” Bell said. “It really doesn't matter how you do it, you stay with it and find a way to keep battling and grinding out at-bats. Early in the game it felt like nothing was going right. ... You're going to have games like that and if you can find a way to win those it's a beautiful thing.”
Aledmys Díaz and Jordan Díaz hit consecutive RBI singles in the second for the A's against Reds right-hander and opening day starter Hunter Greene. Facing Oakland for the first time in his career, Greene matched his season high with 10 strikeouts while walking three and allowing two unearned runs on five hits over five innings.
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Oakland drew an announced crowd of 7,052, its seventh time under 10,000 in 14 home games. It came a day after just 6,423 fans showed up for the Athletics’ first home game since announcing a deal for land to build a ballpark in Las Vegas.
Athletics: SS Aledmys Díaz is likely headed for the injured list because of a left hamstring injury. He will undergo an MRI exam. He singled in the second, stole second and went to third on a single then was lifted for a pinch runner. Díaz dove for a hard grounder by Tyler Stephenson to start the second and had grabbed at his leg. Kotsay say him massaging the leg when he went to second on the stolen base.
Oakland has dropped its initial nine series of the season. The A's fell to to 4-23 in April, already having a franchise record for losses in the month.
LHP Nick Lodolo (2-1, 6.31 ERA) pitches for Cincinnati in Sunday's series finale. He'll face the A's for the first time in his career opposite fellow southpaw Ken Waldichuk (0-2, 7.82), who is coming off three straight no-decisions after losing his initial two outings of 2023.