OAKLAND, Calif. -- The way Sammy Sosa has been struggling at the plate, how far he hit the ball and where it went mattered little to the Baltimore slugger.
"A hit is a hit," Sosa said with a smile, adding that he'll take that "any time."
The Orioles came back with five runs in the seventh inning thanks to several misplays by the A's, including two hit batsmen, two bases-loaded walks and a throwing error by shortstop Bobby Crosby.
Rodrigo Lopez (12-6) pitched 6 2/3 strong innings to win his third straight decision despite trailing for most of the night. Luis Matos added an RBI double in the ninth for Baltimore, which began a six-game road trip.
Crosby ended a 35-game homerless streak with a solo shot in the first inning for Oakland, but he also made a costly error as the sloppy A's lost back-to-back games for the first time since July 6-7 at Toronto.
"That's something we haven't done in the last two months," A's manager Ken Macha said. "Hopefully, it's just a blip on the radar screen."
Zito (11-9) cruised through the first six innings, retiring 17 of his first 19 hitters, but fell apart in the seventh on the way to his first defeat since a 6-1 loss June 17 against Philadelphia.
After pitching coach Curt Young visited the mound, Sosa chopped his short dribbler and Zito stumbled as he tried to field it along the third-base line. The lefty walked Alejandro Freire to bring in the tying run moments later.
"Basically, I had to grab it and side flip it," Zito said. "I was trying to grab it with two hands and stop my momentum. In retrospect, I should have taken my glove off and used my right hand. Plays didn't go our way."
The Orioles figured it was about time a few breaks went their way.
"It's got to happen," said Sosa, whose infield single snapped an 0-for-17 slump and was his second hit in 28 at-bats. "We've been scuffling a little bit. When you come here and play against a team that's playing good baseball and fight for it and win, it's a good feeling."
Crosby hit a solo shot into the left-field seats with two outs in the first inning for his first home run since an inside-the-park homer July 5 at Toronto, a stretch of 141 at-bats.
After Crosby's homer, Lopez loaded the bases with back-to-back singles to Eric Chavez and Dan Johnson and a walk to Jay Payton. But Lopez got Scott Hatteberg to line out to center, the first of 11 straight outs before Scutaro singled in the fifth.
Lopez allowed two runs and six hits, struck out three and walked two. Earlier in the day, he read up on Zito and knew he had a tough task. Lopez was determined to keep things close until his team could score a few runs.
"Every day, we've got something to prove to ourselves," he said. "We're going to have a lot of series against guys who are in the wild card. I think we can still play hard and see where we are in the end."
Crosby, who came into the game with only one hit in 25 career at-bats against Baltimore, led off the sixth with a double. Chavez then singled him home.
Eric Byrnes received a warm ovation in his return to his native Bay Area just more than a month after the A's traded the popular outfielder. He finished 0-for-5.
Byrnes became a fan favorite in Oakland for his no-fear style of play in the outfield, which frequently featured crazy crashes into the wall to make clutch catches. In the very spot along the left-field fence where Byrnes banners used to be a mainstay, a sign reading "Byrnes Bleacher Creatures" hung from the railing to welcome him back.
He made an athletic catch to rob Mark Kotsay of a hit in the fifth, diving and sliding on his stomach to make the play. Byrnes sprinted into the visitors' dugout, ball still in hand. In the next inning, he struck out for the second time against Zito.
|Rodrigo Lopez pitches 6 2/3 innings to win his third straight decision and improve to 12-6. (AP)|
|Players of the Game|
|Eric Byrnes, LF||5||0||0||0||0||2||5||.251|
|Chris Gomez, 2B-1B||4||1||1||1||1||1||1||.279|
|Melvin Mora, 3B||4||0||0||0||0||1||4||.282|
|Miguel Tejada, SS||4||1||1||0||0||0||0||.316|
|Javy Lopez, C||3||1||1||0||0||1||0||.288|
|Sammy Sosa, DH||4||1||1||1||0||1||1||.226|
|Alejandro Freire, 1B||2||0||1||1||1||0||1||.333|
|Brian Roberts, PR-2B||1||2||1||0||0||0||0||.323|
|Jay Gibbons, RF||3||0||0||1||0||1||1||.259|
|David Newhan, PR-RF||1||0||0||0||0||1||1||.211|
|Luis Matos, CF||3||0||1||1||0||0||0||.296|
|2B - Chris Gomez (9, Zito), Brian Roberts (33, Rincon), Luis Matos (12, Yabu)|
|RBI - Chris Gomez (15), Sammy Sosa (44), Alejandro Freire (1), Jay Gibbons (54), Luis Matos (21)|
|2-OUT RBI - Chris Gomez (8)|
|SB - Brian Roberts (21, 3rd base off Yabu/Kendall)|
|Team LOB - 5|
|Rodrigo Lopez (W,12-6)||6.2||6||2||2||2||3||1||4.68|
|Tim Byrdak (H,6)||1||1||0||0||0||0||0||3.12|
|Todd Williams (H,10)||0.1||0||0||0||0||0||0||3.59|
|Pitches-Strikes - Rodrigo Lopez 117-70, Tim Byrdak 9-6, Todd Williams 3-3, B.J. Ryan 22-15|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Rodrigo Lopez 7-10, Tim Byrdak 1-2, Todd Williams 1-0, B.J. Ryan 1-1|
|Batters Faced - Rodrigo Lopez 28, Tim Byrdak 4, Todd Williams 1, B.J. Ryan 5|
|Jason Kendall, C||5||0||1||0||0||0||2||.270|
|Mark Kotsay, CF||5||0||0||0||0||0||4||.268|
|Bobby Crosby, SS||4||2||2||1||0||1||0||.287|
|Eric Chavez, 3B||4||0||3||1||0||0||0||.279|
|Dan Johnson, 1B||4||0||1||0||0||1||1||.321|
|Jay Payton, LF||3||0||0||0||1||0||2||.265|
|Scott Hatteberg, DH||4||0||0||0||0||1||4||.275|
|Matt Watson, RF||3||0||0||0||0||0||0||.139|
|a- Bobby Kielty, PH||1||0||0||0||0||1||0||.266|
|Marco Scutaro, 2B||3||0||2||0||1||0||0||.250|
|a-struck out for Watson in the 9th|
|2B - Bobby Crosby (20, Lopez), Eric Chavez (27, Byrdak)|
|HR - Bobby Crosby (6, Lopez)|
|RBI - Bobby Crosby (30), Eric Chavez (74)|
|2-OUT RBI - Bobby Crosby (9)|
|Team LOB - 9|
|DP - Crosby-Scutaro-Johnson|
|E - Bobby Crosby (5, Wild throw)|
|Barry Zito (L,11-9)||6.1||5||5||3||1||6||0||3.65|
|HBP - Lopez (by Barry Zito), Matos (by Kiko Calero)|
|WP - Keiichi Yabu (1)|
|Pitches-Strikes - Barry Zito 118-69, Kiko Calero 19-11, Ricardo Rincon 10-7, Keiichi Yabu 11-7|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Barry Zito 5-8, Kiko Calero 1-4|
|Batters Faced - Barry Zito 26, Kiko Calero 7, Ricardo Rincon 2, Keiichi Yabu 3|
|Attendance - 20285|
|Game Time - 2:52|
|Temperature - 62|
|Umpires - Home - Dana DeMuth, First Base - Marty Foster, Second Base - Chris Guccione, Third Base - Lazaro Diaz|