OAKLAND -- Silence filtrated through the Coliseum for much of a cloudy Wednesday afternoon.
The A's, already dealt a scary blow in the fourth inning when righty Brandon McCarthy departed after taking a screaming line drive off his head, limped their way to the finish line of another loss just hours later.
A hushed Oakland crowd, which just three days prior was celebrating a nine-game winning streak, was now witnessing a three-game sweep at the hands of the Angels, winners of 12 of their past 15 games, following the A's 7-1 defeat.
It was a crucial series for Los Angeles, its space between the second-place A's cut from 5 1/2 games to 2 1/2 since Monday.
"To come out here and sweep the hottest team in baseball, it says a lot about this ballclub," the Angels' Torii Hunter said. "Every at-bat is intense, and we want it. We know we have a pretty good ballclub, a really good ballclub, and we want to show it. We're doing it right now."
The A's were, too, before this three-game skid.
That's a lot of baggage for a grueling road schedule. Beginning Thursday, when the club opens a three-game set in Seattle, the A's will play 17 of their next 20 games away from the Coliseum -- most of which will come against contending teams.
But maybe a change of scenery is exactly what this club needs after being swept away.
"It was a difficult series for us," manager Bob Melvin said. "It was a little bit humbling. They came in and just beat us, took it to us from the first game on. I think the off-day is coming at a good time. We just move on and forget about it. You're going to have some difficult series. You're going to have some series that you want to remember. This is one that we want to forget about."
"That's baseball," Cliff Pennington said. "They came in and they pitched well. They got some big, timely hits, and they won some ballgames. That's the same thing we've been doing ourselves for a while, and it just didn't happen these three games. But still a lot of games to play and we'll get right back on track after the off-day and won't even look back."
They won't want to, anyway, given what they witnessed in the fourth inning, when McCarthy was hit above his ear on the right side of his head on a line drive off the bat off Erick Aybar. The righty, who allowed three runs during his brief time on the mound, exited the field under his own power, and he was taken to a nearby hospital to undergo a CT scan for precautionary reasons, though he never suffered a loss of consciousness.
Still, the team's loss was put in grave perspective from what could amount to another loss.
"I'd prefer not to even talk about that at this point, because we don't know what's going on with Brandon," Melvin said.
"It obviously hurts, because he's our No. 1 guy out there," said catcher Derek Norris, when asked about the prospect of losing McCarthy. "You never want to see anything like that. Obviously, your heart drops immediately because you don't know."
"You feel really bad," Aybar said in Spanish. "He's a good guy. You never want to hit anybody over the head, and he's a good guy. Hopefully everything turns out all right and, God willing, that he gets better soon."
Lefty Travis Blackley did well in righting the ship thereafter, tossing three scoreless innings. But little offensive life was on display, as the A's managed just one run off righty Dan Haren in his six innings on the mound.
The Angels tacked on four runs in the ninth to pull away.
Seth Smith's RBI single in the third inning marked the lone damage done by an A's team that was outscored 21-5 during the three-game set. They went just 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position and struck out 13 times during the matinee finale.
"It just seemed like every time we got something going, they shut us down, which is what good teams do," Norris said. "We're not going to be able to capitalize on every chance we get, but for the most part, we've had that timely hitting, and today it just didn't come through for us."