BALTIMORE – There might come a time in the near future when Brian Matusz can go deeper in games and perhaps finish what he started.
For now, the left-hander will have to be content with doing quality work in shorter spurts before giving way to the Baltimore bullpen.
Matusz and three relievers combined on a seven-hitter, and the Orioles beat Oakland 4-2 Monday night to extend the Athletics' losing streak to a season-high seven games.
Matusz (1-0) allowed two runs and seven hits in 5 1-3 innings in his second start of the season. He spent the first two months on the DL with a strained left oblique muscle.
"Well, I went out there and was able to go as deep as I can and give the team a chance to win. That's all you ask for," Matusz said. "Obviously I'd like to be able to go longer, help out the bullpen a little bit, but they did a great job."
The 24-year-old was lifted in the sixth after giving up successive one-out singles to Kurt Suzuki and pinch-hitter Scott Sizemore, who was recalled from Triple-A Sacramento hours earlier. Jim Johnson entered and got Adam Rosales to bounce into a 1-6-3 double play.
Johnson retired the side in order in the seventh, Koji Uehara worked a perfect eighth and Kevin Gregg got three straight outs for his 11th save.
"It's a lot of fun playing like that," said Matusz, who has won seven straight decisions dating back to last August.
Matt Wieters had two hits, an RBI and scored a run for the Orioles, who took a 4-0 lead after two innings against Gio Gonzalez (5-4).
Baltimore had lost 20 of its last 24 games against Oakland and was swept in a three-game series last week.
Rosales homered for the A's, who have lost 15 of 19 to fall a season-worst seven games under .500 (27-34).
"Each one it's something different," manager Bob Geren said. "The majority were well-pitched games. Tonight we got two runs. It's a combination — we haven't played well the past week, the total package. We have to play better."
There was one positive note: Rosales played in his first game of the year after a stint on the disabled list with a broken right foot.
The Orioles took a 1-0 lead with an unearned first-inning run. After shortstop Cliff Pennington muffed a potential double-play grounder, Vladimir Guerrero hit a two-out RBI single.
Baltimore made it 4-0 in the second. Derrek Lee led off with a single, stole second and continued to third on an overthrow by Suzuki. Wieters followed with an RBI single, J.J. Hardy singled, and both moved up on a wild pitch before Nolan Reimold hit a sacrifice fly and Nick Markakis singled in a run.
The A's two errors gave them 45 for the season. Oakland started the day with the second-most errors in the AL, two behind Texas.
Rosales connected in the fourth with a man on. It was his first home run since July 18, 2010, at Kansas City.
"Obviously that homer was exciting. It got us back in the game," Geren said. "I like the energy he brings and the talent also. Very nice impact the first game. It was a losing cause but he was a highlight reel."
Gonzalez gave up four runs, three earned, and nine hits in seven innings. He permitted only three hits over his last five innings.
"Once I started getting in the groove I started attacking the zone," Gonzalez said. "It's just one of those situations — they're aggressive, they're swinging the bats, they just got a bunch of hits."
NOTES: Oakland 2B Mark Ellis left in the sixth inning with a right hamstring strain. ... To make room for Rosales and Sizemore on the 25-man roster, the A's optioned third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff and right-hander Fautino De Los Santos to Sacramento. ... Markakis has hit in 160 consecutive series, the longest active streak in the majors.