It was smooth sailing for the Oakland Athletics for about seven innings Tuesday night, but A.J. Griffin’s solid start went to waste as the Milwaukee Brewers roughed up the A’s bullpen to earn a 4-3 win in extra innings.
The final two innings seemed to be a mere formality when Griffin exited to the dugout, but Milwaukee’s offense awoke after his departure, with Rickie Weeks and Norichika Aoki immediately tagging his replacement Sean Doolittle for consecutive singles in the bottom of the eighth.
Jean Segura then cleared the bases, hitting a triple down the right field line to make it 3-2 to knock Doolittle out of the game after just four pitches.
Ryan Cook came out of the bullpen to get the first out of the inning on a groundout by Ryan Braun, but Aramis Ramirez was able to put a ball in play on a broken bat blooper to shallow center field to tie the game. A double play in the next at-bat ended the rally, but the damage was done, and the score was suddenly deadlocked 3-3 heading into the ninth.
If there’s such a thing as momentum in baseball, the Brewers certainly had it at that point, and the A’s offense dried up while the bullpen melted down in the final innings. Seth Smith got on board with a one-out walk in the ninth and Jed Lowrie reached base on a walk in the top of the tenth, but that was it for Oakland’s hitters down the stretch.
It’ll be a tough pill to swallow for the A’s. Griffin had been masterful with his command on the mound, allowing only five baserunners — two of which got past first. He’d finish the day with five strikeouts, four hits and one walk.
Milwaukee nearly walked off with a win in regular time after a rocky inning from Jerry Blevins in the ninth, but they’d leave the bases loaded as Segura grounded out to Eric Sogard at second to send the game into extra innings.
In the bottom of the tenth, Pat Neshek appeared to have everything under control, but Milwaukee executed a perfect hit-and-run with two outs in to finish off the comeback, and they escaped Miller Park with a 4-3 victory.
Making matters all the more frustrating, the A’s had a chance to add to their three-run lead prior to Milwaukee’s rally, but after loading the bases with two outs in the top of the eighth, pinch hitter Nate Freiman couldn’t cash in against Michael Gonzales, flying out to end the threat.
Yoenis Cespedes supplied the offense early on for Oakland in the form of a two-run homer in the first, and he added a solo shot in the sixth to account for all three Oakland runs. It was the first multi-home run game of his career.
The two teams will face off tomorrow at 11:10 PST in the deciding game of the series. Bartolo Colon — who may be in line for a 100-game suspension according to an ESPN report — will take the mound against Yovani Gallardo.