OAKLAND, Calif. -- The Oakland A's left 15 runners on base through nine frustrating innings Monday against the Tampa Bay Rays, stranding the bases loaded three times.
They finally broke through in the 10th against former Oakland closer Grant Balfour. Derek Norris singled with two outs and the bases loaded to lift the A's to a 3-2 victory before 18,479 at the O.co Coliseum.
Norris' heroics kept the A's one game ahead of the Los Angeles Angels in the American League West.
"I'm thinking if we keep getting in that position, we're going to come through," A's manager Bob Melvin said.
Oakland had been 0 for 5 on the night with the bases loaded before Norris grounded a ball up the middle, just to the left of the second base bag for his second career walk-off hit. Sam Fuld, who singled with one out, scored the winning run.
"It was good that I could come up and finally get the game over with the plenty of opportunities that we had," Norris said. "It was a hard-fought ballgame."
Starting pitcher Jeff Samardzija pitched well for Oakland, but a second-inning home run by Evan Longoria and a quick two-out rally in the fifth inning twice allowed the Rays to take the lead.
Each time, the A's tied the game an inning later. First, it was a third-inning RBI double by Jed Lowrie. Later, Josh Donaldson delivered a two-out, two-strike RBI single in the sixth inning, snapping the team's 0 for 8 skid with runners in scoring position.
The lack of success with men on base was more bothersome because of how much Tampa Bay starter Alex Cobb struggled with his command early. Cobb walked the bases loaded in the first inning, but a fly out and ground out thwarted the rally.
An inning later, the A's were the beneficiaries of a walk and hit by pitch to help load them up with two outs before Donaldson grounded out.
Samardzija powered his way through seven strong innings but was handed a no-decision. He gave up five hits and struck out three.
The A's had a chance to put him in line for a win when they loaded the bases again in the seventh inning on a single and two walks. But Fuld struck out swinging to end the inning.
-- Sonny Gray earned his second American League pitcher of the month award Monday after going 5-0 with a 1.03 ERA in July. He also won the award in April.
"I was excited to get it," Gray said of the award. "But it was really nice to have a nice month, especially after struggling the month before a little bit. So it's just really nice to get back on track."
Gray is the first A's pitcher since Barry Zito to win this award twice in one season. Zito was honored in August and September of 2001. No pitcher had won the award twice in an Oakland uniform at all since Mark Mulder (June 2002 and June 2004).
-- Jarrod Parker, out for the season after having Tommy John surgery, threw from 45 feet Monday, his first such activity of his rehab.
"Just to be able to get out there and actually throw a baseball for the first time gives you some satisfaction based on the hard work you've been putting in to get to this point," Melvin said of Parker. "It was nice. It put a smile on everyone's face."
A.J. Griffin, also out for the year with an arm injury, inched closer to joining Parker in throwing a baseball. He's begun tossing a sock.
"It's a big step," Melvin said. "He was in a good mood, too."
-- Coco Crisp, who missed the previous seven games with a sore neck, pinch-hit in the seventh inning for Stephen Vogt and walked. Crisp stayed in the game in center field and struck out in the ninth. Melvin said Crisp would be in the lineup Tuesday.
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