The World Series is still being contested -- although perhaps not for long -- so I'll take the liberty of using a metaphor: Following solid hits last week by the likes of ExxonMobil (NYSE: XOM), Royal Dutch Shell (NYSE: RDS-A), and ConocoPhillips (NYSE: COP), Chevron (NYSE: CVX), the second-biggest U.S. integrated oil company, whiffed at three straight pitches.

It wasn't quite that bad, but, unlike its peers, the company fell short of expectations. On revenue that improved 7% to $49.72 billion, Chevron reported earnings of $3.77 billion, or $1.87 per share, compared with $3.83 billion, or $1.92 per share a year earlier. Last year's quarter included gains totaling about $400 million from asset sales and tax items, while currency effects reduced this quarter's earnings by $367 million, after lowering the 2009 third quarter by a lesser $170 million.

The analysts who follow the company had reached a consensus earnings prediction of $2.15 per share, so this was a pretty sizable miss.

Upstream, Chevron's output increased 1%, but earnings slid 4.6% year on year. In May, the company had six shallow-water rigs and three deepwater units under contract in the Gulf of Mexico, leaving it more liable than the other Gulf explorers for continued contractor payments during the drilling moratorium. Chevron investors may at least get some schadenfreude from moratorium culprit BP's (NYSE: BP) results, which come out tomorrow.

Downstream, earnings skyrocketed 115% to $565 million. In both the U.S. and internationally, Chevron benefited from improved refined product margins.

Without the Gulf drilling ban, Chevron awaits a return to normalcy. As CFO Patricia Yarrington said during her company's call:

We are pleased that the drilling moratorium has been lifted. This is the first step needed to return thousands of people to work and to begin drilling back in the Gulf. The second step is reemergence of an efficient permitting process. We have submitted one deepwater drilling permit, and we have an active exploration and development drilling program planned for 2011.

Also, as CEO John Watson noted, "During the third quarter, we added exploration prospects in China, Liberia, and Turkey, while we continued our exploration success in Australia." Offshore Western Australia, the company is the primary operator and developer of the huge Gorgon liquefied natural gas project.

In any event, despite its somewhat disappointing quarter, I continue to believe that Chevron's widespread asset base and its solid management team will benefit the company down the road.

Chevron is a Motley Fool Income Investor pick, and the Fool owns shares of Exxon. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.

We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. Fool contributor David Lee Smith doesn't own shares in any of the companies named. He is, however, a Texas Rangers fan. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.