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Parker shuts down Yanks over eight innings

The Indians' losing skid continued on Saturday night, and they'll enter Sunday's series finale with the same goal as A's right-hander Jarrod Parker: Right the ship.

While the A's have won four in a row, Parker has lost three straight and hasn't put a mark in the win column since July 21 against the Yankees. He gave up five runs in his last start, all in the fifth inning, and couldn't finish that frame.

Overall this month, the young righty is 0-3 with a 5.71 ERA, bringing him to 2-4 with a 6.15 ERA and a .309 opponents' average over his last seven starts.

"I think this team has kind of gone off pitching all year, and it's something where we set the tone," Parker said. "It's been a little bumpy as of late, but it's where we'll make a few adjustments and get right back on track."

Parker said he and pitching coach Curt Young have noticed a flaw in his delivery, causing some of his outside pitches to float back toward the middle of the plate. He's been working on keeping his motion compact, finishing pitches and keeping his hand on top of the ball, hoping that will get him back to the way he pitched over his first 13 starts, when he went 5-3 with a 2.46 ERA.

"It's so simple, but it's pretty easy to get away from," Parker said. "It's one of those things where a couple bad pitches here or there make the difference from a good outing to a great outing. I had a couple walks and what-not. I'm not happy with those. Obviously just try to move forward and not look back too much.

Cleveland, meanwhile, can't afford to look back. The Indians have gone 4-17 over their last 21 games, dropping to 11 1/2 games back of the American League Central-leading White Sox. Cleveland is also the ninth team in line for a Wild Card spot in the AL, having fallen well out of contention.

But manager Manny Acta spoke highly of the way his club has survived such a stretch, praising his players' attitude and choosing to put a positive spin on such a difficult skid.

"These guys have handled everything very well. It's a good opportunity for them to build character, and it's an opportunity for us to see how they handle this situation and go about their business," Acta said. "They have been good. There are only so many things you can control.

"They've been playing hard, but they aren't Bugs Bunny. They can only play their position."

Indians: Tribe finding trouble holding runners
Cleveland's season-long difficulties dealing with baserunners continued Saturday night, when Oakland stole two bases and was caught once.

The Indians entered the game having allowed 101 stolen bases, with a 20 percent throw-out rate, second-worst in the AL. Most of that can be placed on the Tribe's pitching staff, Acta said, from veteran Ubaldo Jimenez to their younger starters.

"We have two of the best throwing catchers in the league," Acta said, "but the past two years, we are not doing a very good job of holding runners.

"It's about offsetting [the runner's] timing by sometimes holding the ball longer or by changing the look," he added. "There are different things you can do. It's not just speeding up."

• Cody Allen allowed two hits but no earned runs in two-thirds of an inning Saturday night, running his streak of consecutive shutout innings to 13 since being called up from Triple-A Columbus on July 20. That's the longest such streak to begin a career exclusively in relief with the Indians dating back to 1974, according to available research from STATS LLC.

A's: Anderson close to returning
Left-hander Brett Anderson tossed a 40-pitch bullpen session Saturday and feels ready to return to the A's rotation. Oakland manager Bob Melvin said Anderson will be back soon, adding "we will find a way to get him in there somehow." Anderson, coming back from Tommy John surgery, has made five Minor League rehab starts with Triple-A Sacramento. He hasn't pitched for the A's since June 5, 2011.

"I'm very eager to get back and pitch for this team," Anderson said.

• Oakland should also see the return of third baseman Brandon Inge fairly soon. He said he is "way ahead of schedule" in his recovery from a sprained right shoulder and expects to come off the disabled list when he's eligible on Aug. 27.

"I don't put anything past him," Melvin said. "He is a guy with a high threshold of pain tolerance."

• Seth Smith, on the other hand, was eligible to come off the DL on Saturday but is still recovering from a strained left hamstring. He took batting practice and ran the bases for the second day in a row, and Melvin said the outfielder was getting closer to a rehab assignment.

Worth noting
• Cleveland has held a lead at some point in eight of its last 17 losses.

• The A's snapped a streak of seven straight games with nine or more strikeouts Saturday night, whiffing only four times to break the longest such streak in franchise history. Comments