Tony Dejak, Associated Press
CLEVELAND — The replays showed the Oakland Athletics may have gotten a bad call.
That's they way it's gone this season.
Pinch-runner Cord Phelps was called safe on a close play at the plate in the 16th inning, sliding under Oakland catcher Kurt Suzuki's tag as the Cleveland Indians beat the Athletics 4-3 on Wednesday night, ending an August of losses for the A's, who dropped their fifth straight and went 11-17 in the month.
"Very disappointing," Oakland manager Bob Melvin said. "We had our opportunities and didn't capitalize. We had more than they did."
In the 16th, Jim Thome singled with one out off Josh Outman (3-4), the A's eighth pitcher. Phelps came in to run for the slow-footed Thome and Carlos Santana lined a single to center. Jack Hannahan, who hit two solo homers off Rich Harden, then grounded a sharp single to right.
Phelps was waved around by third-base coach Steve Smith and was able to reach past Suzuki, who had to jump to catch right fielder David DeJesus' strong throw.
"It was a close play, one of those things where you can't tell if he was safe," Suzuki said. "I tagged him. I know that. It's too bad to lose after we battled so hard. The bullpen basically pitched a perfect game, but we just couldn't get a key hit, either."
Oakland's relievers combined for eight perfect innings, retiring 24 in a row from the seventh until the 15th.
"Our bullpen was magnificent," Melvin said.
Frank Herrmann (4-0), Cleveland's sixth pitcher, worked four perfect innings as the Indians jumped Chicago into second place in the AL Central, 5½ games behind Detroit.
The marathon featured a Progressive Field record 34 strikeouts — 19 by Oakland pitchers — and the two teams combined for 509 pitches.
The A's threatened in the 10th, 11th and 12th, but couldn't push the go-ahead run across. They stranded six runners in the three innings, leaving the bases loaded in the 12th against Chad Durbin, who got out of the one-out jam by striking out Ryan Sweeney and retiring DeJesus on a pop to short.
Suzuki homered for Oakland, which went 1 of 14 with runners in scoring position and stranded 13. The A's have dropped five straight and are 33-49 since May 30.
August was rough enough, and the A's will start September in a hurry. Oakland will have to avoid being swept in the four-game series, which will conclude with a noon game Thursday.
"It isn't easy, that's for sure," Suzuki said. "But we have to do it. That's our job. We should have scored more runs earlier tonight."
Hannahan's second homer off Harden, a towering shot off the foul pole in right, tied it 3-3 in the sixth.
He turned on an 0-1 pitch and drove it three-quarters of the way up the pole for the 3,000th homer at Progressive Field, which was also hosting its 1,400th game since opening in 1994.
Cleveland's Ubaldo Jimenez allowed three runs and six hits in six innings, and the right-hander got stronger as the game went on. He struck out six of the last seven A's he faced, freezing Suzuki on an outside pitch to end the sixth. It wasn't a dominant performance — he needed 114 pitches to get through six — but he kept the Indians close enough to pull out another one.
Harden, who was frequently mentioned in trade rumors involving the Indians before the July 31 deadline, posted an almost identical line to Jimenez — three runs and six hits in six innings with two walks and six strikeouts.
Suzuki connected for his 13th homer in the fourth, giving Oakland a 3-2 lead. The A's had tied it 2-2 in the third on Brandon Allen's two-out RBI single.
Notes: Following the game, the A's announced they traded 1B/OF Conor Jackson to Boston for minor league RHP Jason Rice. ... Of Suzuki's 13 homers, 12 have been solo shots. ... Harden made his 100th start for the A's, the 21st Oakland player to have that many. He's made 156 starts overall. ... It was Oakland's longest game since going 17 on June 17, 2006. ... A's bench coach Joel Skinner has been bumming a ride to the ballpark with Indians first-base coach Sandy Alomar. Skinner, who played, coached and managed the Indians, has maintained a home in the Cleveland area. ... A's OF Coco Crisp didn't start but came in as a pinch-runner in the 10th. Crisp went 0 for 2. ... The A's recalled LHP Jerry Blevins from Triple-A Sacramento for the sixth time this year. ... Oakland LHP Gio Gonzalez (11-11) will face RHP Fausto Carmona (6-12) in a noon start Thursday. Gonzalez is 4-0 with a 0.89 ERA in five career starts against Cleveland.
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