For five innings, it looked as if the Oakland Athletics would lose their fifth in a row with little resistance to the Baltimore Orioles.
Then, the offense awoke, and the A’s re-discovered their flair for the dramatic in a 9-8 win in 10 innings, highlighted by a two-run home run from Yoenis Cespedes to tie the game with one out in the bottom of the ninth. Jerry Blevins earned the win as Oakland’s bullpen put in a solid effort to keep the A’s within striking distance against an Orioles team that has had success every which way at the plate against the A’s. Bartolo Colon went six innings and gave up five runs with three strikeouts.
Colon was on point in the first three innings, allowing only one baserunner — J.J. Hardy, who was thrown out trying to steal second for the last out of the third following a Nolan Reimold strikeout — but he ran into trouble in the fourth, resulting in a 4-0 lead for the Orioles.
Three consecutive singles loaded the bases with no outs for Adam Jones, who singled to right field to score Nate McLouth from third for the first run of the game. That kept the bases loaded for Chris Davis, who knocked in two more runs on a double off the wall in the right field corner to make it 3-0. Matt Wieters added one more on a sacrifice fly to left field to score Jones before Colon got out of the inning.
Baltimore added another run in the fifth on an two-out double from Jones, and it would’ve been two runs if it wasn’t for a relay throw from Cespedes to Eric Sogard at second that resulted in a play at the plate where Manny Machado was called out.
It would be a catalyst of sorts for the A’s, as they had a four-run inning of their own in the sixth. Adam Rosales doubled to lead things off, and Coco Crisp did the same in the next at-bat to score the Oakland’s first run of the game. John Jaso hit a single to center field to advance Crisp to third, and Crisp scored on a grounder from Seth Smith that resulted in an out at second to make it 5-2. Cespedes followed it up with a single, and a walk to Brandon Moss would load the bases for Josh Donaldson, who smacked a two-run double to left to make it 5-4 to finish off the rally.
Baltimore made it 6-4 on an RBI single from Machado off of reliever Ryan Cook in the seventh, but Smith countered with a two-run homer in the bottom half of the inning to tie the game. Sean Doolittle came in for Cook in the eighth and gave up a solo home run to Chris Davis that broke the tie, and an RBI double from Machado in the ninth off of Grant Balfour seemed to signal the end for the A’s, but left-hander Brian Matusz couldn’t close it out for the Orioles, giving up a lead-off single to Derek Norris in bottom of the ninth that came back to haunt him when Cespedes smashed a changeup at his ankles to the left field bleachers to tie it up 8-8 and send the game into extra innings.
Jerry Blevins quickly retired the side in the top of the tenth, and the A’s wasted no time in the bottom half of the inning. Sogard got aboard on a single, and Rosales advanced him on a bunt that went back to Orioles pitcher Pedro Strop, which Strop threw into center field trying to get Sogard out at second. Crisp then laid down a bunt down the third base line, which Machado threw into left field trying to get Sogard out at third. Sogard was sliding into the bag without realizing third base coach Mike Gallego was signaling him home, but even with the late start he made it around to score the winning run for Oakland and snap their four-game losing streak in dramatic fashion.
While it probably didn’t play out exactly how Bob Melvin envisioned in his mind’s eye when he called for the bunts, a win is a win, and the A’s finally have something to build off of as they head into a three-game series against the Los Angeles Angels at O.co Coliseum, starting with Dan Straily going up against Tommy Hanson Monday night.