MILWAUKEE -- Sean Doolittle is in unfamiliar territory.
Oakland's seemingly bionic reliever is struggling for the first time in his career, and he doesn't know why. He's just eager to get back on track.
After giving up three runs on only four pitches to the Brewers in the eighth inning of an eventual 10-inning, 4-3 A's loss on Tuesday to the Brewers, upping Doolittle's run total to seven over his last three outings, the southpaw went through a checklist of sorts, explaining just how he's going to help himself out of a rare rut.
"After an outing like this, I'll get here extra early tomorrow," said Doolittle, who allowed just two runs over his first 23 games. "I put it in the rear-view mirror by putting in the work the next day. Get on the bike, kind of get the blood going, get my body feeling good, maybe watch some film and see if there's anything on there I need to change from a mechanical standpoint. Get out on the field and do my throwing.
"That's how I turn the page. My preparation gives me confidence going into my next outing."
Whether his next appearance is in the eighth inning remains uncertain. Manager Bob Melvin mulled that thought over late Tuesday night, after Yuniesky Betancourt's walk-off double against Pat Neshek snapped his club's four-game winning streak, without reaching a concrete answer.
"I don't know," Melvin said. "I have to think about it. It's been three games. The stuff's no different. The ball's coming out of his hand as good. There are times you have to soul-search for your best confidence level, but he's a very confident kid. He's a big part of what we do down there.
"It's a three-run lead. On four pitches, for him, that's shocking to see. I'm not sure what we'll do next with him, if we'll try to get him another outing in a different type of scenario, but a lot of times it doesn't pop up that way."
If it's up to Doolittle, he'll be back on the mound in the eighth inning on Wednesday.
"I was rearing to go, chomping at the bit to get in that game," he said. "The conviction is there behind every single pitch. I want to get in the game. I want to throw through this. Obviously, wherever [Melvin] puts me in the game, I'm going to take the ball and get after it the best I can, but I feel really good. I want to continue to pitch in these types of games."
"We have all the confidence in the world in those guys," starter A.J. Griffin, whose seven scoreless innings went for naught, said of the bullpen. "They always get the job done. Today was kind of a fluky day, but I'm sure Doo will be out there tomorrow striking out the side."
Doolittle, handed a 3-0 lead thanks to Yoenis Cespedes' first career multi-homer game, didn't record an out in his latest stumble, allowing three consecutive hits, the last a two-run triple to Jean Segura. Upon his departure, Ryan Cook came on and allowed Segura to score on Aramis Ramirez's bloop single but exited without any further damage.
Southpaw Jerry Blevins escaped a bases-loaded jam in the ninth, but Neshek didn't fare as well in the 10th. The righty have up a one-out base hit to Ramirez and, after Carlos Gomez reached on a fielder's coach, Neshek surrendered Betancourt's game-winning hit.
Last year, Doolittle allowed runs in back-to-back outings just twice but never over a three-game stretch. He allowed at least three runs, as he did Tuesday, only once.
"The frustrating part about it is I feel great," he said. "My side work, my mechanics, the stuff I do before the game, my preparation has been very crisp and clean. Tonight I felt the ball was down, maybe it was over the plate a little bit. I still feel like I did two weeks ago. The hits are just finding holes, and they're putting up runs."
Before that, it seemed like one effective arm and two powerful swings were all the A's were going to need for a 3-0 shutout.
Griffin limited a Brewers team that had lost 24 of its last 31 games to four hits in seven innings, and Cespedes was responsible for all three of Oakland's runs thanks to his 10th and 11th homers of the season.
A first-pitch, two-run shot off right-hander Kyle Lohse, which followed a leadoff single by Coco Crisp, quickly put the A's ahead with one out in the first, and Cespedes' solo shot -- again off Lohse -- in the sixth, extended a lead that wouldn't be touched until Doolittle took to the mound.
"When you expect a guy to strike out the side every time, it's surprising when he gives up a couple runs," Griffin said. "But that's how it goes. Happens to all of us."