OAKLAND Getting swept by the team right behind you in the standings is tough enough.
Losing your most experienced starting pitcher in the process? Gulp.
The A's were left to wonder how the good times vanished so quickly after Wednesday afternoon's 7-1 loss to the Los Angeles Angels, who completed a three-game sweep.
The defeat was accompanied by a scary scene in the fourth inning, when A's right-hander Brandon McCarthy fell after being struck on the right side of his head by a line drive off Erick Aybar's bat.
"The first thing he asked me was, 'Where did it hit me?' " catcher Derek Norris said.
McCarthy's next start is scheduled for Tuesday against the Angels in Anaheim. Manager Bob Melvin didn't want to speculate on whether McCarthy would miss time, but given the nature of any head injury, it would appear the pitcher could be sidelined for Tuesday's outing and perhaps longer.
That doesn't bode well for a team that counts three rookies among its five-man rotation and also lost veteran Bartolo Colon to suspension for the rest of the regular season.
The A's immediate concern is rebounding from a sweep that abruptly halted their momentum from a nine-game winning streak. They remained tied with Baltimore for the American League's top wild-card spot at 76-60.
"It was a little bit humbling," Melvin said. "They came in and just beat us, took it to us from the first game on."
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