CLEVELAND -- Ben Broussard is making the most of his chances to do what he likes best: hit with men on base.
The Athletics have lost 19 of 23 and are a major league-worst 5-19 in May, their most losses in a month since going 8-19 in July 1997. Oakland dropped eight straight from May 7-15, its worst losing streak since 1998.
"We've been in these games," Oakland manager Ken Macha said. "The margin of error is very small."
Cleveland won for the sixth time in eight games. Broussard has hit .333 with five RBI during that span.
"I like hitting with guys on base," said Broussard, who has 13 RBI in his last 16 games. "Hitting fourth, that's the best spot to get it done."
Cleveland manager Eric Wedge returned after missing one game because of a personal family emergency, but was without closer Bob Wickman. The veteran reliever said Saturday he felt much better than he did the night before, when he removed himself from the game because of severe back spasms.
Wedge used four relievers, and Bob Howry worked the ninth for his first save since Aug. 28, 2001, when the right-hander was with the Chicago White Sox and before he had elbow surgery.
"It's nice to get a save, but I'm only there until Wicky gets back," Howry said. "He's done a great job. In this bullpen, we help each other."
Scott Elarton (2-2) gave up six hits and two runs in six innings. He walked three and struck out four, settling down after allowing Oakland to take a 2-0 lead five batters into the game.
Oakland got within 4-3 in the seventh. Mark Kotsay hit a one-out double off Rafael Betancourt and scored on a two-out single by Eric Chavez against left-hander Arthur Rhodes.
The Athletics took a 2-0 lead in the first. Chavez broke an 0-for-13 slump with an RBI double and later scored on a grounder by Bobby Kielty that was misplayed for an error by third baseman Aaron Boone.
"I felt like I made good pitches there, but they put the bat on them," Elarton said. "My stuff was good, all my pitches, but my command is always a work in progress."
Elarton got out of the two-on, one-out jam and allowed three hits over the next five innings.
Broussard singled home a run in Cleveland's first to make it 2-1 and had an RBI double in the third to tie it against Kirk Saarloos (1-4). One out later, Jody Gerut singled home Broussard for a 3-2 lead.
Saarloos allowed four runs and 10 hits over five-plus innings in his first start since May 16 following a stint in the bullpen. He has lost four straight since a 9-0 win at Baltimore on April 6 in his season debut.
"I had a sinker that wasn't sinking and a cutter that wasn't cutting," Saarloos said. "I had to go out and battle. That's all we can do. We're playing the game the right way. You think it would reward us, but one little thing gets us each game."
Peralta's bases-loaded walk off Juan Cruz with one out in the sixth made it 4-2. Left-hander Ricardo Rincon then fell behind in the count to Grady Sizemore but got him to hit into a double play on a 3-1 pitch.
Ronnie Belliard doubled home an unearned run in the eighth and scored on Peralta's double.
Oakland CF Mark Kotsay went 2-for-4 to put his career average at Jacobs Field at .556 (20-for-36). ... Sizemore grounded into two double plays after not hitting into any in his first 308 at-bats in the majors. ... Indians C Victor Martinez had an infield hit to snap a 3-for-35 (.087) slump. ... Boone was booed after each of his at-bats. He struck out twice and went 0-for-4 to drop to .157 overall. ... The attendance of 33,646 was the best crowd at Jacobs Field since opening day.