OAKLAND -- There are quality starts and tough-luck starts and then there are just plain weird starts like Aaron Harang's on Tuesday night.
He didn't allow a hit after the first inning but didn't get out of the fourth, issuing a career-high eight walks to his former team, the Oakland A's, who beat his current club, the Dodgers, 3-0, on a combined two-hitter.
Harang, who struck out nine consecutive hitters in an April start, made much different Dodgers history for the most walks in a game since Edwin Jackson had eight in 2003; for a starter lasting fewer than five innings since Sandy Koufax in 1955; and for a starter lasting fewer than four innings since Les Webber in 1943 (stats from Jon Weisman).
Harang brought a streak of three quality starts into this one, so pitching coach Rick Honeycutt wrote it off to a scheduling quirk that spaced seven days between Harang's starts.
"You can't use it as an excuse," said Honeycutt, "but pitching is everything about routine, and when it's messed up it can affect you."
Harang was messed up.
"It was almost unfair what we did to him," manager Don Mattingly said. "Seven days between. We had two funny off-days. He just seemed out of rhythm all night and he used a lot of pitches to get through not even four [innings].
After a 40-pitch first inning, he clicked off a total of 105 pitches in 3 2/3 innings, striking out six. Opposing winner Brandon McCarthy threw only 81 pitches in seven innings and ran his win streak to six.
"I felt pretty good actually," Harang said. "In the bullpen, I was hitting spots. Sometimes it's going to look like that and it doesn't function on the main mound. It's one of those things that happen. I battled and tried to keep us in the game, but we didn't get to McCarthy."
Although he allowed a pair of walks in each of his four innings, Harang equaled that number in runners stranded to keep his club in the game.
"I felt a little mechanically like I was rushing too much at times," Harang said. "I was missing my spots. Things just weren't right. They were being patient when I missed and they fouled off a lot and it racked up my pitch count fast. Walks don't help either."
Harang didn't get any defensive help in Oakland's three-run first inning. Coco Crisp's leadoff popup dropped for a double with right fielder Andre Ethier, first baseman James Loney and second baseman Adam Kennedy surrounding the ball.
"No man's land," said Mattingly.
Jemile Weeks walked, and one out later, Seth Smith's RBI single was booted by center fielder Tony Gwynn for a two-base error.
"He probably had a play at the plate if he had the chance," Mattingly said. "The outfield is rough here and the ball kicked away."
With two outs, Harang walked Brandon Moss and Jonny Gomes singled home Smith.
"I racked up the pitch count, but I can't dwell on that," Harang said. "I'll look at the tape with Rick and go from there."
Four relievers (Jamey Wright, Scott Elbert, Todd Coffey and Shawn Tolleson) combined for 4 1/3 scoreless innings of relief.
Harang didn't get any offensive help, either. McCarthy, who missed two starts with shoulder soreness and hadn't pitched since June 7, retired the first eight Dodgers, scattered two singles and didn't allow a runner past second base.
"Early on I was kind of amped up and short of breath. I don't know what was going on, so that felt a little weird, that hasn't really happened this year," McCarthy said. "But after that I felt like I kind of settled in and figured out what I was doing again. At least pitch sharpness-wise, I felt like it was all there."
The Dodgers, masters of the miracle comeback this season, did get runners on first and second with one out in the ninth when Crisp dropped Ethier's line drive for an error and Bobby Abreu walked, but Loney bounced sharply into a game-ending double play.
"The only balls we hit hard were outs," said Ethier, who had a one-out single in the fourth to go with Gwynn's two-out single in the third.
"He kept us down, that's for sure," Mattingly said of McCarthy. "We never got on track. He was throwing strikes early in the game to get ahead. I kind of didn't seem to know what to do with him."
This was the third shutout suffered by the Dodgers this season. They are 5-5 in Interleague Play and 2-10 in Oakland (not counting the 1988 World Series).
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.