Oakland had a lead going into the bottom of the ninth last night against the Cubs, as they'd reached Mark Prior for three runs in the fourth inning and Mark Mulder had only been touched for a run in the second and one in the seventh. Unfortunately, Mulder had thrown 123 pitches through eight innings, so he had to come out. With no Arthur Rhodes around (who would've only blown the game anyway), Chad Bradford came on and proceeded to get just one out while allowing two runs to cross the plate, snatching a defeat from the jaws of victory.
Anaheim and Texas both won, so the loss that should have been a win especially hurts, allowing both teams to come back to 1.5 games back of the A's.
Oakland didn't hit Mark Prior all that hard, but they got him to throw enough pitches (85 in 5 innings) that they got into the bullpen early. Unfortunately, Mike Remlinger, Francis Beltran, Kent Mercker, and Kyle Farnsworth combined to shut down the A's for the last four innings, allowing just three singles and a walk while striking out six.
The only-in-the-majors-because-Ellis-and-Chavez-are-hurt Esteban German did the most damage against Prior, hitting a two-RBI triple. That triple was the first extra-base hit of German's 78 at-bat major-league career, which shows exactly why he's not really a major leaguer. That's a horrid XBH rate, and pitchers know he's got no power, so he's not going to get the walks that kept him alive in the minor leagues. I recall Baseball Prospectus being relatively high on him for the last few years, figuring that he'd at least be a little above replacement level in case of an injury, but I'm not sure that's the case, and he's not young anymore: at 26, this is about as good as it gets.
Mulder pitched pretty well, though he gave up ten hits, but you'd like to see the A's stop letting pitchers start innings when they've already thrown 105 pitches, as Mulder did starting the eighth. If Mulder didn't get Patterson to hit into a double play after Derrek Lee's single, his count could have easily hit 130 had Ken Macha and Curt Young left him in. One has to hope that they wouldn't have left him in, but given the relatively cavalier way they've been treating pitch counts in the last few months, one worries.