OAKLAND -- Left-handers have hit A's righty Tyson Ross hard all season.
On Friday, the ones from New York hit him even harder, as the A's fell, 6-3, to the Yankees in the opener of a three-game set.
Combined, they went 9-for-15 against Ross, who surrendered home runs to the left-handed-hitting trio of Mark Teixeira, Robinson Cano and Nick Swisher before being chased in the fifth inning.
"I think they just see the ball a little better against me," said Ross, whose .425 opponents' average by lefties is the highest mark among any pitcher in the American League. "The split-change is something I need to keep working on to disrupt their timing and get them off all of the hard stuff that's coming in there. I think I need to mess around with it more, take some velocity off of it and just try to get that back-and-forth game going a little better."
Unfortunately, Ross' woes trumped the improved offensive efforts of his teammates, who combined for as many runs as they had compiled over their previous three games. Josh Reddick and Kila Ka'aihue claimed the majority of the responsibility, tallying solo home runs off New York right-hander Ivan Nova in the fourth and seventh innings.
In between, Kurt Suzuki notched a sacrifice fly, following back-to-back hits off the bats of Josh Donaldson and Daric Barton to lead off the fifth.
After the seventh, the A's couldn't close the gap on the Yankees' three-run advantage, one that might not have existed had Coco Crisp caught Robinson Cano's line drive with two outs in the third. Instead, the center fielder missed it, allowing a run to score and paving the way for Teixeira's two-run homer.
"I made the right adjustment quick enough to be able to make the play," Crisp said. "After I made that adjustment, I was in good enough position to catch the ball. I was just in-between a thought process of a dive and to stand up, and I reached out a little too far because I thought it was going the other way. It was definitely an error. It's a play I feel I should make, now, nine times out of 10. Before, it would be 10 times out of 10.
"Those three runs, that's the difference in the ball game right there. We are playing a team of high caliber. You want to go out there as solid as possible."
"It's a tough play," Ross said. "Any time you have a line drive coming right at you in the outfield, it's tough. He made a good effort but unfortunately didn't make the play. That's all I can ask for. He tried his best at it. Unfortunately it got by him. Errors happen. They're part of the game. You have to move on."
New York is 14-4 when scoring first and 15-2 when its opponents plate three runs or less.
"When we can jump out first, it's a lot better than when the other team jumps out first," Swisher said.
And the A's couldn't quite recover, as Nova held them to six hits during his time on the mound, three more than the club tallied on Wednesday and five more than the night before, leading Melvin to deem his squad's approach at the plate "better."
"It seemed like our at-bats, even the outs, were a little bit tougher," Melvin said. "Certainly we'd like to string a couple more together at times, but it certainly wasn't in the fashion we've seen the last couple days. There seemed to be some energy today. They took the lead, then all of a sudden it's 3-0, we have to battle back against a team you know can put up some more runs, but I thought our approach was better tonight."
The A's have now lost three straight and seven of their last 10. Their recent track record against the Bronx Bombers is even uglier, evidenced by a 7-28 ledger since 2008, which is the worst record by an AL team against New York over that span.
"They're a good-hitting team, and they showed that tonight," Ross said. "I felt like I was throwing the ball well early, and then I left some pitches up, and they made me pay for it."