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OAK@CLE: A's fall to Tribe on walk-off single in 16th

CLEVELAND -- The A's walked away from August on Wednesday without a winning record.

They haven't had one in a single month since July 2010.

August delivered several positives, no doubt. Josh Willingham went on a power tear, Kurt Suzuki and Cliff Pennington showcased life at the plate, and newcomer Brandon Allen offered a glimpse at what could be a dynamic future.

But the end was less than memorable.

Capped by Wednesday's 4-3 defeat to the Indians -- decided by Jack Hannahan's walk-off base hit against Josh Outman in the 16th inning -- the A's closed out the month with five straight losses, falling a season-low 16 games under .500 with 26 left to play.

Their latest beating came in the form of a stretched-out affair that lasted more than five hours, adding to an already tiring road trip that already included a four-plus hour, nine-inning game in New York and a doubleheader featuring more than five hours worth of rain delays in Boston.

Based on innings, Wednesday's contest represented the club's longest game since June 17, 2006 against the Dodgers (17 innings). And its end, which technically came in the month of September, came just under 12 hours before the start of Thursday's series finale.

"It stinks," manager Bob Melvin said. "Those types of games you'd certainly like to win."

Perhaps it would have been played longer given a different game-ending call. With pinch-runner Cord Phelps on second base and Carlos Santana manning first with one out in the 16th, Hannahan lined a ball to right fielder David DeJesus. The throw was on line to Suzuki, who reached for the tag on Phelps only to watch home plate umpire Bruce Dreckman call the runner safe.

Replays show that the tag attempt clearly came before Phelps reached home. The question, then, was whether the tag was actually made.

"I tagged him," Suzuki said. "I really didn't ask, though. [Dreckman] said something to me and walked off the field, so I really didn't get the chance to ask him. I tagged him, but I just don't know if he was on the plate or not. He hit my leg."

Said Phelps: "I was just trying to run hard. I knew it was going to be close -- just the way the catcher was setting up. I tried to get around him. Apparently I did."

No matter the case, the incident seemingly could have been avoided multiple times before the arrival of Outman. In his second inning of work, Outman allowed back-to-back singles to Jim Thome and Santana with one out, before Hannahan's game-changing hit.

The A's bullpen had combined for eight scoreless innings and 10 strikeouts -- retiring 24 straight from the seventh to the 14th inning before Jason Donald's leadoff double in the 15th -- and Oakland had its chances to reward those efforts more than once. But the club instead stranded nine baserunners without posting a run in those frames.

Overall, the A's tallied 15 of the combined 33 strikeouts between the two clubs and went 1-for-14 with runners in scoring position, leaving 13 men on base. And the bullpen was forced to use each of its arms.

"The bullpen pretty much threw a perfect game," Suzuki said. "It's too bad we couldn't manufacture anything to support them."

"There's nothing we can do about it now," Melvin said. "It's not like guys didn't play hard. We had our opportunities, there's no doubt about that. We had more than they did, and we didn't cash them in. So that's disappointing.

"The bullpen was magnificent. I don't know how you can ask for anything more, to keep you in the game where you could go out and potentially just score one run. And we just couldn't do it."

That same A's offense had appeared somewhat responsive in the early rounds after scoring just six runs combined over their previous four games. Never mind that their first run in the second against Indians righty Ubaldo Jimenez came courtesy of a bases-loaded walk. Two hard-hit balls off the bats of Willingham and Allen preceded the free pass.

And it was Allen's second hit of the night that erased what was a 2-1 Indians lead in the third, when he singled home Pennington. Suzuki gave the A's their first lead -- not just of the night, but their first since the second inning of Friday's game in Boston -- in the fourth, thanks to his 13th homer of the season, a solo shot to left off Jimenez.

But the lead lasted all of two innings, as Hannahan collected his second homer of the night off Oakland starter Rich Harden in the sixth, tying the game at 3.

It marked Hannahan's third home run in two days and the fourth that Harden has surrendered in his past two starts. The A's righty was lifted after the frame, having allowed three runs on six hits in six innings.

Also taxed by that time was Jimenez, whom the A's pushed out of the game after six innings, all the while forcing the hurler to throw 114 pitches. His line proved nearly identical to Harden's, aside from the home-run count.

In the end, though, Outman was the one left standing on the mound. Making his first appearance since Saturday's 77-pitch outing in the second game of the doubleheader in Boston, Outman said he knew coming into the game that he would be available, but as a "last-string" option.

"In the 16th inning, I don't think you can get more last-string than that," he said. "It's always disappointing when you lose ... After the way we battled, it would have been nice to have come out on the other side of the game." Comments