Nolasco tames Athletics

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OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) - Bob Melvin thinks his club is on the verge of coming out of its offensive slumber. Just the same, Oakland's manager plans to shake things up a little.

After the Athletics were shut out for the second time in four games, losing to Florida's Ricky Nolasco 3-0 on Wednesday night, Melvin announced a few changes in his team's lineup.

Rookie Michael Carter, a power-hitting slugger in the minors, will make his first start of the season as Oakland's designated hitter for Thursday's season finale against the Marlins while Hideki Matsui will go back to left field.

"I don't know if we consider that a mad scientist move but we have to look to try to do something, get some production in the middle," Melvin said. "It's a good day for him to DH."

At this point, Melvin is willing to try anything.

Oakland was held scoreless for the ninth time this season - tied for most in the American League - and the second time since Melvin replaced Bob Geren as manager on June 9.

The A's have gone 32 consecutive days without hitting more than one home run, their longest streak in Oakland history.

It's been a problem that's plaguing the A's entire lineup.

Catcher Kurt Suzuki is 4 for 43 over his last 12 games. David DeJesus is in an 0-for-13 slide, while Cliff Pennington snapped an 0-for-23 rut with a single in the first inning.

"It is frustrating," said Suzuki, who was hitless in three at-bats. "When you're not getting the results you want, it can wear on you."

The closest the A's came to touching Nolasco came early.

Pennington and Coco Crisp had consecutive one-out singles in the first, moving to second and third on Matsui's flyout. After Conor Jackson walked to load the bases, Ryan Sweeney flied out to center.

Oakland never mounted another serious threat.

A's starter Guillermo Moscoso struck out a season-high eight and gave up four hits in six innings. But his otherwise solid performance was washed away by two pitches hammered by Hanley Ramirez and Logan Morrison.

"Other than two pitches he pitched well again," Melvin said of Moscoso. "The numbers are a little skewed when, one, we don't do anything offensively and two, when two of the hits he gives up are home runs."

Nolasco (4-5) struck out three and walked two for his fifth career complete game.

The homers by Ramirez and Morrison off Moscoso (2-4) were the first by Florida in eight days. The Marlins improved to 4-23 in June, by far the worst month in franchise history.

The offensive power came after an unusual team meeting led by interim manager Jack McKeon.

The 80-year-old turned the clubhouse into a classroom for about 15 minutes before batting practice, even using a bat as a prop while he delivered his speech to hitters. He made his players chuckle with tales about former A's owner Charles Finley when McKeon managed Oakland from 1977-78 and gave more instruction than motivation.

"We had an educational meeting," McKeon said. "It wasn't one of my usual, 'Go get 'em, babies.' It was educational, how we've got to go about it."

Whatever the reason, the Marlins finally started to swing the bats.

Ramirez's drive in the first inning landed over the 400-foot sign in straightaway center field for his first home run since May 21 and it put Florida ahead 2-0. Morrison added a solo shot to right in the fourth to give the Marlins a three-run lead.

Florida backed Nolasco with some splendid defense.

Mike Stanton made a running catch of Cliff Pennington's soaring shot up against the wall in right field just as his glove slammed into the padding. Second baseman Omar Infante hopped over a broken bat to field a ground ball by Hideki Matsui in the third.

NOTES: Oakland RHP Tyson Ross (strained left side) will pitch a rehab assignment for Triple-A Sacramento on Thursday. ... RHP Brandon McCarthy allowed one unearned run and struck out four in six innings in a rehab start for Class-A Stockton.


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