Tiny crowd watches Crisp crush game-winner

O.CO COLISEUM – In an epic back-and-forth battle in front of 11,461 fans in Oakland, the A’s pulled out more late-inning drama to power past the Twins 8-6 and reduce their magic number to four with nine left to play.

Minnesota opened the scoring by scratching out an unearned run against starter Dan Straily in the top of the third inning.

Chris Parmelee led off with a single and moved to second base on a throwing error by Jed Lowrie. Parmelee advanced to third on a groundout, and Alex Presley then hit a ground ball to second baseman Eric Sogard, who tried to gun down Parmelee at the plate. The throw was late, both runners were safe, and the Twins had a 1-0 lead.

Oakland got that run back and took the lead in the bottom of the fourth. Brandon Moss led off with a walk and came around to score on a double to the gap off the bat of Josh Reddick.

Seth Smith followed with a base hit, moving Reddick to third. Stephen Vogt brought him home with a sacrifice fly to left to make it 2-1, but the A’s left the bases loaded, failing to capitalize on a big inning.

Despite struggling at times with his command, Straily fell just one out short of a quality start for Oakland.

The sixth inning proved to be trouble for Athletics pitching in general. With one out, Oswaldo Arcia walked and advanced to second and then third on two wild pitches from Straily.

After the right-hander walked former Athletic Josh Willingham, Straily’s night was done. He threw 105 pitches, only 66 strikes, while allowing three runs – two earned – walking three, and striking out six.

Dan Otero was brought in to try to salvage the lead, but allowed a base hit to Yosmil Pinto that bounced off of Daric Barton at first and tied the game at two.

After a walk to Parmelee, Pedro Floriman scorched a ball to Donaldson, who kept it in the infield, but the throw to first was too late. Willingham scored, and Minnesota had a 3-2 lead.

Kevin Correia was in line for his tenth win of the season after giving up six hits, five walks, two runs, and striking out one in five innings. But the Minnesota bullpen couldn’t contain the A’s, who’ve had the most home runs in the league since the All-Star break (74).

With two outs, Alberto Callaspo hit his second career pinch-hit home run over the wall in left to tie the game at three. Coco Crisp and Donaldson singled, and then Lowrie crushed his 13th long ball of the year to center field. Just like that, it was 6-3, Oakland.

It turned out the game was far from over, as the Twins refused to give up. Arcia hit a solo shot off of Brett Anderson in the seventh before the wheels fell off for Ryan Cook in the eighth.

Pinto and Parmelee led off with back-to-back singles, and pinch-hitter Chris Hermann plated Pinto with a fielder’s choice.

After a wild pitch and a walk to Alex Presley, Jesse Chavez relieved Cook and immediately gave up an RBI single to Brian Dozier that tied the game at six.

Once again, the long ball rescued the Athletics. With one out and one on in the bottom of the eighth, Crisp crushed his 21st homer of the year – a new career-high –  to the right-field bleachers, making the score 8-6, where it would stay.

Crisp, who was voted by his teammates as the recipient of the Jim “Catfish” Hunter award before the game, said he is happy to be contributing any way he can, and the home runs are just a bonus:

“I’ve hit for respectable power in the past. … I’m just having one of those years. I don’t know if it’ll ever happen again, but I am grateful. Hopefully it will, but it is what it is right now, and I am grateful maybe to do it in a helpful fashion as well.”

Crisp was also happy to pick up the A’s bullpen, who allowed three earned runs in 3-1/3 innings.

“They’ve been doing a great job for us all year. It goes back and forth. This game is a crazy game … they took care of us when we weren’t hitting, and hopefully we can take care of them if they’re going through a tough spell as well.”

Sean Doolittle (W, 5-5, 3.22 ERA), pitched 1-1/3 innings and a 1-2-3 ninth for the win. Doolittle says that Crisp has been a key to this team all season long:

“He’s been such an integral part of our offense all season long. It’s no secret what he brings to the table for us. He’s our spark plug. We’ve been riding him all year, and tonight is just another case of him putting us on his back and getting us a win.”

Notes:

Straily threw a career-high 105 pitches and is 4-0 with a 2.15 ERA over his last five starts. … Crisp also recorded his 57th walk, also a career-high. … Donaldson has reached base safely via hit or walk in each of his last 24 games, which is the longest streak by an Athletic over the last five years. He’s batting .372 during that span.


Follow @SFBay and @JenCosgriff on Twitter and at SFBay.ca for full coverage of the Oakland Athletics.