OAKLAND -- It appears that Andrew Bailey has returned to form since losing the closer's role he's held for much of the season.
The right-hander has scattered two hits, walked one and struck out seven in four scoreless outings this month after going 2-1 with a 10.13 ERA last month, during which time he blew four of six save opportunities, allowed 12 hits, issued seven free passes and fanned just eight in 10 appearances over eight innings.
"It's just the ups and downs of baseball," Bailey said. "I'm off to a good start, but I didn't doubt that I would continue to give up runs every single outing. You just keep on working and keep on grinding.
"A couple weeks ago, it just seemed like every time they got a hit, it was a home run. There's a difference between squaring a ball up or finding a hole, and what it comes down to is execution. Whether you're a pitcher or a hitter, you're going to have highs and lows. You can't get too low with the lows and too high with the highs.
"Guys can go 0-for-20, relievers can have a bad week or two. It's a game. You go out there and try your best every single time, but you got to stay true to who you are and trust your stuff. I'm not going to go out there and have a zero for the year, that's just not going to happen."
Koji Uehara has earned a Major League-leading seven saves since June 26 in place of Bailey as closer. Uehara fanned all three batters he faced in the ninth inning of Friday's 4-2 win over the A's to earn his eighth save of the season, and he owns a 0.56 ERA with 24 strikeouts in 17 outings since June 10.
The chance to reclaim the closer's role will rely on more than just how Bailey pitches in the second half of the season, though a second effective option will surely provide flexibility for manager John Farrell.
"Every reliever wants to be the closer. It doesn't matter who you are," Bailey said. "I'd love to be the closer, but right now Koji's doing a fantastic job. Whatever the manager sees fit, I want to go to the playoffs and win the World Series, and whatever role I fit in is fine by me."
Jeff Kirshman is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.