San Francisco Chronicle

A little help here? Not for Mengden

- By John Shea John Shea is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: jshea@sfchronicl­ Twitter: @JohnSheaHe­y

Daniel Mengden deserves better than his 0-3 record, but those are the breaks when it comes to pitching for the 2016 A’s.

Winnable stuff doesn’t necessaril­y equate to winnable games.

Three impressive starts into Mengden’s big-league career, support remains an issue. He struck out nine in six innings Wednesday, and the scuffling A’s fell to the Brewers 4-2.

“No, it’s not frustratin­g,” Mengden said. “I’m just going out there and trying to give our team a chance to win. That’s how baseball goes. You win some, you lose some. We’ll get it eventually.”

Mengden’s career to date is historic — on both sides of the ledger.

On one hand, he has 21 strikeouts in 18 innings, the most in 100 years by any pitcher except Tim Hudson to open his career with three appearance­s for the A’s.

But in those 18 innings, the A’s offense provided exactly two runs of support for Mengden, who could be 3-0 with a little help from his friends.

Instead, he’s the fourth bigleague pitcher in a century to surrender three or fewer runs in his first three starts and lose them all.

“We saw right away he’s a tough kid,” said manager Bob Melvin, recalling how Mengden debuted in steamy Cincinnati. “From the first pitch of the game, it looked like he belonged. His presence is as impressive as anything.”

Aside from the lack of offensive assistance, the defense was an issue Wednesday. Milwaukee’s three-run rally in the fifth inning was avoidable with cleaner defense on two plays, one involving Mengden.

Ramon Flores hit a one-out double to left-center, and Coco Crisp’s throw skipped past infielders for an error, allowing Flores to take third.

The Brewers had No. 9 hitter Yadiel Rivera bunt, and Mengden was quick to the scene and easily could have thrown out Flores at the plate, but he fumbled the ball and had no play.

One out later, Scooter Gennett hit a two-run homer, and suddenly it was 3-1.

“We’ve got to somehow try to knock that ball down and keep the guy off third base,” Melvin said.

Crisp thought he had a chance for Flores at second. But shortstop Marcus Semien lined up for a throw to third, and second baseman Jed Lowrie said he thought that’s where the ball was going. The ball was on the third-base side of second and rolled to the infield.

“Coco was being aggressive there,” catcher Josh Phegley said. “He was hustling. It was in between. The communicat­ion fell through.”

Crisp said, “We just weren’t on the same page. It’s an honest mistake. It happens in the game. It’s unfortunat­e.”

Crisp hit a fourth-inning homer, and the A’s made it 3-2 on Max Muncy’s RBI single in the seventh. Kirk Nieuwenhui­s put the Brewers ahead 4-2 with a homer off Liam Hendriks in the eighth.

The A’s dropped to 5-13 in June, and their 29-42 record is their worst through 71 games since 1994. Mengden’s next start is Monday against the Giants at AT&T Park.

“He’s done a good job for us, a fantastic job,” Crisp said. “Hopefully, we can pick him up one of these days.”

Mengden twice struck out Ryan Braun, including with the bases loaded to end the third. After the Brewers’ three-run rally in the fifth, Mengden struck out the side in the sixth.

“Strikeouts come,” Mengden said. “It’s not my job to strike ’em out. It’s my job to get ’em out.”

 ?? Ben Margot / Associated Press ?? A’s starter Daniel Mengden gives up a two-run homer to the Brewers’ Scooter Gennett (left) in the fifth inning.
Ben Margot / Associated Press A’s starter Daniel Mengden gives up a two-run homer to the Brewers’ Scooter Gennett (left) in the fifth inning.

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