O.CO COLISEUM — With the Royals winning against Detroit, and Seattle losing to Houston, the A’s needed to find a way to win Sunday afternoon to stay ahead of Kansas City and gain ground on the Mariners.
25,126 people watched a seesaw battle between the A’s and the visiting Philadelphia Phillies before Josh Donaldson delivered an 8-6 win in the tenth inning by driving a fastball deep to left-center off Miguel Gonzalez (L, 0-1, 8.31 ERA).
The home run was Donaldson’s third walk-off homer of 2014 (May 28 vs. Detroit, July 18 vs. Baltimore). The walk-off ties an Athletics single-season record held by Reggie Jackson (1971), Dave Kingman (1986) and Matt Stairs (1999).
Sean Doolittle said of Donaldson’s propensity for big spots:
“Donnie loves the spotlight.”
Sean Doolittle, (W, 2-4, 2.82 ERA) — who had worked a 1-2-3 ninth inning, striking out two — came on for a second inning of work in the tenth. He again struck out two before giving up a warning track fly ball to left that ultimately ended the Phillies tenth.
Photos by Scot Tucker/SFBay
Bob Melvin was asked if leaving his closer in for a second inning of work showed how important the game was to this club, to which Melvin simply said:
“Yep. No doubt about it.”
Scott Kazmir continued his string of shaky outings, tossing 5-1/3 innings and giving up six earned runs on eleven hits and a walk while striking out nine en route to a no decision. Kazmir now has a 6.67 ERA over his last ten starts.
Bob Melvin said of Kazmir’s outing:
“I thought his stuff was reasonably good again, but with two outs they got some key hits off of him. I don’t think his stuff has been the issue. I know his numbers haven’t been as good recently, but his stuff looks really good. It’s just a matter right now of finishing off and get that third out.”
“My body, everything feels great. It’s just a matter of consistency.”
Kazmir went on:
“It seems like there has been quite a few pitches that I’ve gotten hit off of that have been my secondary pitches, or that I need to bury, or get in a situation where I’m not going to get hurt by it.”
To support Kazmir, the A’s brought the lumber to the yard on Sunday afternoon, scoring eight times on nine hits and nine walks. The A’s scored in four different innings, a welcome change from the one-inning outbursts the team has exhibited of late.
The Phillies (71-85) grabbed an early lead off Kazmir in the first. After getting two quick outs, Chase Utley hit a bloop single to center. Ryan Howard followed with a lengthy at-bat that resulted in a walk. Marlon Byrd (2-for-5, 2 doubles, 3 RBI) doubled to deep left, bringing home Utley and giving the Phillies a quick 1-0 lead.
It was an all-too familiar tune for A’s fans to start the game.
However, in the bottom of the first, Coco Crisp led off with a walk from A.J. Burnett (ND, 4 1/3 innings, 3 hits, 6 earned, 6 walks, 3 strikeouts), who struggled with his command early on. After Stephen Vogt flied out to center, Donaldson roped a single to the opposite field, pushing Crisp to third.
Adam Dunn followed with a single of his own, right of second, that scored Crisp and moved a hustling Donaldson to third.
Brandon Moss broke out of his 0-for-8 streak with a double to left that Grady Sizemore dove for but couldn’t snare, scoring Donaldson. Jed Lowrie was hit by a pitch, loading the bases for Josh Reddick, who hit a sac fly to left, scoring Dunn for a 3-1 A’s lead.
The Phillies saw this deficit as a challenge. In the third, Utley singled for his second hit on the afternoon, followed by a Ryan Howard double. Marlon Byrd brought them both home on a double to left-center, tying the game at 3-3.
Geovany Soto went 1-for-3 with two walks on the day, collecting three RBIs. The first RBI was on a bases-loaded walk in the third inning to give A’s a brief 4-3 lead. Carlos Ruiz answered in the Phillies fourth, belting a double to left, scoring Ben Revere, and knotting the game at 4-4.
The second and third RBIs of Soto’s afternoon came on a two-out double to right-center in the fifth that scored Brandon Moss and Nick Punto, who had walked earlier in the inning.
Again, Philadelphia responded. This time it was a Freddy Galvis triple, scoring Cody Asche who had singled, followed by a Ben Revere single, plating Galvis, and making the score 6-6 until Donaldson’s home run sent everyone home happy.
The walk-off win is Oakland’s tenth of the season. … Jed Lowrie left the game in the fourth with a left foot contusion. … The Phillies have not won a road game on Sunday since April 27 against Arizona. … Coco Crisp has not grounded into a double play in 395 at-bats, which is a new Oakland record. The previous record was 390 at-bats by Reggie Jackson. … If the A’s can average 23,564 per game for the Angels series, they will draw two million on the season for the first time since 2005.