A=Average For Oakland

Crisp and the A's are stuck in a rut at the plate.

Are the Oakland A's just resigned to being a .500 team?

Last year, the Oakland A's were at the .500 mark a team-record 33 times. Fittingly, they finished the season 81-81.

This year, the A's have been at .500 12 times already, so they're on track to break that 2010 record. Sunday's loss to the White Sox put them at 20-20.

What's going on? The A's were expected to contend this season because of their standout pitching. And there are few problems in that department -- Oakland has the best ERA in the league.

The A's best starter, Trevor Cahill, did have his seven-game winning streak come to an end on Sunday in Oakland's 4-3 loss to the White Sox at the Coliseum, but he's 6-1 overall.

The A's have had more defensive trouble over the first month and a half than they should have, but in the past two days against Chicago, Oakland got very good defensive work, apart from Cahill's throwing error, which led to two unearned runs.

Hitting remains the issue, with manager Bob Geren trying to juggle several slumping players, including both third basemen, Kevin Kouzmanoff and Andy LaRoche, second baseman Mark Ellis, and designated hitter Hideki Matsui, who has not started four of the past six games.

A's Notes

--Cahill had his seven-game winning streak, dating back to last season, snapped on Sunday, when he allowed 10 hits, a season-high, and four runs, two earned. Cahill had allowed no more than a run in his previous five starts. He has a 1.29 ERA over his past six starts.

--OF Josh Willingham went 0-for-5 and struck out a career-high-tying four times on Sunday. He also made the final out with the tying run on third. He's the first Oakland player to strike out four times in a game since Gabe Gross last June 5 against the Twins.

--RHP Andrew Bailey threw 18 pitches in an extended spring training game in Arizona on Saturday, using all of his pitches and hitting 92-94 mph with his fastball. Bailey returned to Oakland Sunday to be re-evaluated, and he might head out on a rehab assignment early this week.

--DH Hideki Matsui has started only two of Oakland's past six games, and on Saturday, he did not start against a right-handed pitcher, Chicago's Gavin Floyd. Matsui, who is batting .236, pinch hit in the ninth inning Sunday with two outs and a man at third, and he walked. Manager Bob Geren told reporters Matsui will play more regularly this week because Oakland will be facing right-handed starters.

--2B Mark Ellis extended his career-high streak without a walk to 21 games on Sunday, but he'll get a pass for that game -- he had three hits. That lifted Ellis' average to .194.

BY THE NUMBERS: 45 -- Times the A's have been at the .500 mark since the start of the 2010 season, including 12 times this season after going back to even with Sunday's loss to the White Sox.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "They're coming right after us -- and they should." -- A's manager Bob Geren, about opponents throwing Oakland more strikes because the team as a whole isn't hitting well.

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