OAKLAND, Calif. -- The Athletics rallied for a walkoff win in the ninth inning Tuesday against the Angels, pulling out a 2-1 win on a Josh Donaldson two-out RBI single.
Oakland cut its magic number to win the American League West to six, but only after they ran into a tough customer in Angels' starting pitcher Garrett Richards, who dueled Athletics rookie starter Sonny Gray to a standoff, each allowing just one run.
The Athletics loaded the bases with one out in the bottom of the ninth, but with the Angels sporting a five-man infield, Daric Barton struck out against Michael Kohn. Then with the defense back to normal, Donaldson lined a single to center.
The inning started with Alberto Callaspo's single. Pinch runner Jemile Weeks moved to second on a fly ball, and after pinch-hitter Jed Lowrie was intentionally walked, Coco Crisp worked a 10-pitch walk off Kohn to load the bases.
Barton struck out, but Donaldson lined a single to center, after which he was greet by an mobbing at home plate. He later was pied, twice, by Josh Reddick, and also was doused with Gatorade.
Gray was supposed to have started Monday, but he got pushed back a day when Jarrod Parker got Monday's start after a bout with a stomach problem that attacked him Sunday in Texas.
Two outs in to the game Gray was behind when Mike Trout clubbed his 25th homer, a blast out over the center field wall.
From that point on, Gray just kept evading difficulty. Leadoff men reached base in the third (walk) and fourth (error) innings, but in neither case did the Angels score.
And in the fifth, when Andrew Romine opened with a single and took third on Howie Kendricks' one-out hit, Gray struck out Trout with some classic high heat, then got Mark Trumbo to fly out, ending the inning.
Gray's only 1-2-3 inning came in the sixth, an inning augmented by a marvelous diving catch in right-center by Josh Reddick. The right fielder ran down a ball hit by Trumbo, a ball on which Reddick seemed to have no chance to close ground. But he did, and Gray recovered to close out the inning quickly.
But with Gray having piled up 98 pitches, he was replaced to start the seventh by Ryan Cook.
And that inning was an adventure. Cook got two quick outs, then a blooper to left kept the Angels alive. Cook then hit the next two men he faced, Howie Kendricks and Trout before Jerry Blevins came out of the dugout. Blevins was behind in the count 3-1, then threw back-to-back strikes to fan cleanup hitter Josh Hamilton and keep the game tied.
Richards threw five scoreless innings in his first start of the year on July 27 in the Coliseum, left with a 1-0 lead but got no decision when the Athletics rallied for a 3-1 win.
He was pretty much just as smooth this time around. Brandon Moss's RBI double to right scored Coco Crisp, who'd walked and taken second on a grounder, in the first inning, then settled in to force the Athletics to try and grind it out against him.
He retired seven consecutive batters before Josh Donaldson single to start the fourth, and later in the inning Reddick singled with two out, but the rally effort fizzled at that point.
Moss hustled his way into a double to start the sixth, but he only made it as far as third before Alberto Callaspo lined out to end the inning.
Richard made it into the eighth inning, but when Josh Donaldson beat out an infield hit to open the eighth, Richards was quickly pulled rather than have him face Moss, who'd doubled twice in three at-bats. The move worked as the Angels' bullpen turned away the Athletics without Oakland even getting Donaldson into scoring position.
The MRI of Yoenis Cespedes's right shoulder was mostly good news for the Athletics. Cespedes does have tendinitis, but he doesn't have anything worse, so he can serve as the DH while giving the shoulder some time to heal. There's no timetable to get him back in left field, where Brandon Moss was playing Tuesday.
Shortstop Jed Lowrie had a regular workout before the game Tuesday and could be in the lineup for the Athletics' series finale with the Angels Wednesday. Lowrie came out of Sunday's game in Texas early because of some right hamstring tightness and now has mossed back-to-back starts. "We'll see tonight," manager Bob Melvin said. "He's potentially an option off the bench tonight."
Catcher John Jaso, who has been out of action for almost two months because of a concussion, took batting practice on the field before Tuesday's game. It's not at all clear that there will be enough time for Jaso to hone his game to be able to return from the disabled list this month, but at least he's waking up and not feeling any of the nausea and disorientation that accompanied most of his time on the DL.
Pitcher Brett Anderson, who came down with back trouble midway through the just-completed road trip, has gotten better every day. On Tuesday Melvin said the left-hander was ready to resume work in the bullpen without restrictions.
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