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ATLANTA – Jason Hammel seemed to be gaining momentum in the Oakland rotation.
An ugly step back led to questions about his spot in it.
Hammel gave up five runs while recording only nine outs and the Oakland Athletics' mini-slide continued with a 7-2 loss to the Atlanta Braves on Friday night.
Hammel (1-5) allowed five runs and six hits, including three homers, in three innings. He was pulled after walking B.J. Upton to open the fourth.
"Obviously it's not acceptable," Hammel said. "I've got to find a way to get through a few more innings there, at least save the bullpen."
The A's have lost three straight and five of six.
"We're just going through a tough time right now," manager Bob Melvin said. "You start to press a little bit offensively and it can be contagious as a group.
"You start swinging at some pitches out of the zone. We're pretty good about looking for our pitch and waiting for it. We haven't been as good here recently."
Hammel has a 6.75 ERA in seven starts since his trade from the Cubs. He had allowed only one earned run over 12 innings in his previous two starts.
Melvin said Hammel was hurt by high pitches in giving up homers to Justin Upton and Evan Gattis in the second. The more damaging one was Freddie Freeman's three-run homer in the third.
Melvin wouldn't discuss Hammel's status in the rotation.
"I would never make comments about any player 10 minutes after a game regardless of who it is or what," Melvin said.
Oakland's only runs off Alex Wood (9-9) came on a two-run homer by Nate Freiman in the fourth.
Braves rookie Phil Gosselin hit a two-run homer, the first of his career, off Jesse Chavez in the sixth.
After the game, Freeman applauded Atlanta's power surge.
"That was a good night," Freeman said, noting Oakland brought the majors' best record to Atlanta.
"We always play those teams the hardest, and it was no different tonight," Freeman said.
Chris Johnson was credited with a ground-rule double when A's centerfielder Coco Crisp lost his deep fly ball in the lights in the third. The ball landed well behind Crisp and bounced over the wall. Hammel hit Gattis with a pitch and then escaped the jam.
MUST BE THE SHOES
Melvin said LHP Jon Lester, who is scheduled to start on Sunday, has had a smooth adjustment to the rotation following his trade from Boston. "I think he had as much trouble getting used to the white shoes as he has actually going out there and performing," Melvin said. "Because you put him in any uniform and he's going to give you, for the most part, the same type of performance."
After Wood issued one-out walks to Jonny Gomes and Josh Donaldson in the first, the left-hander made a pickoff throw to second base. Umpire Ted Barrett called Gomes safe. Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez challenged the ruling and the call was overturned following a review of 1 minute, 50 seconds.
The ruling proved important when Derek Norris followed with a single to left field that likely would have scored Gomes from second.
Athletics: CF Craig Gentry, on the 15-day disabled list with a broken right hand, will take batting practice with Triple-A Sacramento on Saturday.
Braves: LF Justin Upton started after leaving Thursday night's game with a mild left hamstring strain. ... SS Andrelton Simmons was held out after having two teeth extracted.
Athletics: RHP Sonny Gray will try to snap a streak of losses in three straight starts in Saturday night's game. The three-game skid is the longest of his career.
Braves: RHP Julio Teheran will try to improve his 2-3 career interleague record in his first appearance against Oakland. He is 1-2 with a 2.41 ERA in two starts against AL teams this season.