OAKLAND -- Tyson Ross very much needed a bounce-back start.
The A's right-hander gave his best effort and got one, but Ross' encouraging day was outdone by the one scripted by Toronto's Brandon Morrow, who struck out 10 in six innings while handing Oakland a 5-2 loss, snapping the club's winning streak at three.
The A's are looking for more innings out of Ross, who got through 5 2/3, after failing to surpass the four-inning mark in each of his previous two starts. But after surrendering a combined 16 runs in those outings, Ross gave up just three this time, two on Adam Lind's two-run shot with two outs in the fourth.
"Definitely progress," manager Bob Melvin said. "I thought he was better. He had better rhythm and, at times, better breaking stuff. Certainly better than his last two outings."
"I was a little shaky in the first, but then I kind of found that rhythm, and I showed that after those two outings where I struggled, I was able to come back and have a decent outing," Ross said. "It was definitely a step in the right direction.
"Just trying to get my lower half underneath me and create a little more power. I think I did a good job of that. My velocity was up a bit, and I think I had some positive results from it."
Ross threw 88 pitches in the losing effort, needing 26 in a lengthy first that saw him walk two batters. He issued just one other free pass the rest of the way, and Toronto's other run off of him came in the sixth courtesy of Colby Rasmus' RBI single.
But Ross' teammates struggled to capitalize on any opportunity produced by Morrow, stranding seven on base while he was on the mound, with the only run against him coming in the fifth by way of an RBI single off the bat of Jonny Gomes. It halted the right-hander's scoreless-inning streak at 24 1/3, but wasn't enough to prevent him from picking up his fourth straight win.
Not a bad effort from a hurler who claimed to not be "as sharp as I've been, probably."
"It was a matter of keeping the ball down," Morrow said. "All my misses were down or off the plate. I didn't have a very good slider and that probably played into it today, as far as getting deeper into counts when I might have been able to put some guys away."
Following the departure of Morrow -- a college teammate of Ross at the University of California at Berkeley -- the A's snagged a run off of Blue Jays lefty Luis Perez in the seventh, with Josh Reddick bringing home a run on his only hit of the day.
But, again, the A's left two on base in the frame, unable to narrow a two-run advantage that Toronto never gave back. Overall, A's hitters fanned 13 times, with each member of the starting nine striking out at least once, including three times by Daric Barton. They stranded 10 total, never once showcasing any of the momentum that could have been gained from the previous night's walk-off grand slam victory.
"We did our best, obviously," said Brandon Inge. "We never really gave up. It's just one of those things, you have to give credit to the other team sometimes. We came through last night, and today they made their pitches when they needed to. We couldn't really get a rally going at any particular time."
"At this point, it doesn't appear like we're going to blow anybody out multiple days in a row," Melvin said. "So we have to be timely in our hitting, we have to execute, we have to play good defense. We've gotten good pitching. Recently, we've won some games because we've gotten more timely hitting."
Edwin Encarnacion, once employed by the A's for just a couple of weeks in 2010, hit a solo shot off of Oakland lefty Jerry Blevins to lead off the eighth. J.P. Arencibia had hit one off of Pedro Figueroa the prior inning.
Not as much power resides in Oakland's lineup, which will look for help from each of Thursday's starting nine for the start of a four-game series with the potent Tigers.
"You can see, when we've done well, we've gotten key hits and created momentum off of that," Melvin said. "That's going to be key for us."