Wednesday, June 29, 2016

A's hold off Giants in wild final innings

The Oakland A's capitalized on plentiful offense and a plethora of San Francisco mistakes Tuesday night to fend off the Giants, 13-11.
Pinch-hitter Jake Smolinski's three-run homer highlighted a five-run eighth inning that gave the A's a 10-8 advantage. But the Giants remained persistent, scoring three runs in the final two innings, highlighted by back-to-back homers from Jarrett Parker and Denard Span in the ninth inning. Oakland nullified San Francisco's late production with three ninth-inning runs.
The A's own a 34-43 record and the National League West-leading Giants are 49-30, yet Oakland won both games in the two-game series between the cross-bay Interleague rivals.
"We're in first place. Teams are going to come in and try to give us their best game," Span said. "We can't take any teams or games lightly, not that we have. But you can't assume that since we're playing a team that's under .500, that's an easy win."
The Giants' performance proved they can't assume anything. Their typically precise pitchers issued eight walks; four of those runners scored. A throwing error by third baseman Conor Gillaspie generated a pair of unearned runs in the sixth inning. Giants closer Santiago Casilla committed a balk, abetting Oakland's three-run ninth inning.
A's right-hander Ryan Madson finished a two-inning save by striking out Brandon Crawford, who drove in five runs and went 3-for-5.
"That was some game," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "So many different swings, so many big hits. Seemed like two games. Terrific baseball game. There were so many contributions from so many players in the game that you don't even know where to start, but I'm glad we ended up on the winning end of it."
Khrushed: The A's Khris Davis had to reach for his team-leading 19th home run of the season, showing off his tremendous power by lining it into the left-field stands with little leg drive in the fourth inning. Davis reached base three times on the night, singling and scoring in the pivotal four-run sixth before christening the game-changing eighth frame with a walk. Davis' 19 home runs are tied for fourth-most in the American League.
Big nights: Resting on Monday definitely had a positive effect on Crawford, who strengthened his bid for a second straight All-Star appearance with his two-run double in the third inning and a bases-loaded triple in the sixth. Crawford lacked a home run to hit for the cycle.
Span recorded his 200th career double with a drive to left field that brought in the tying run in San Francisco's four-run sixth inning. He also contributed a dazzling catch of pinch-hitterJosh Phegley's wicked eighth-inning line drive that immediately preceded Smolinski's homer.
"The ball was hit in the gap and as soon as it was hit, I broke back for it," Span said. "Honestly, I feel like as I was going for the ball, it almost went by me, so I jumped up and tried to time it and tried to get an extra step and reached for it."
In a pinch: The A's continually delivered off the bench, getting key hits from several pinch-hitters. Smolinski's was the biggest, but Billy Butler did his part in the sixth with a two-out, two-run single that temporarily gave the A's a 5-4 lead. Then there was Phegley, who may have been robbed of a run-scoring hit in the eighth when he emerged from the bench, but the catcher delivered in the ninth via a two-run double that would prove critical when the Giants attempted one final comeback.
"For us to use our bench like that and have guys like [Smolinski] with those big hits, it just shows where we're at as a team right now," Phegley said. "We could definitely pack it in right now with our record and how things have gone, but there's plenty of baseball to be played, and you can tell by tonight what kind of attitude we're going to approach the rest of the season with."
Suarez keeps surging: In what could have been one of his last starts of the season for the Giants, if not the last start, Albert Suarez delivered one of his better efforts. He just missed a quality start, yielding three runs and three hits in 5 2/3 innings.
"Suarez did a great job," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said.
Assuming Suarez moves to the long-relief role when Matt Cain is activated from the disabled list, the Giants can feel confident their bullpen will be stronger.
A's: The A's return home to resume play with the Giants in a two-game series at the Coliseum that begins Wednesday at 7:05 p.m. PT. Left-hander Sean Manaea will be activated from the disabled list to make the start, his first since June 13 when he prematurely departed with a forearm injury.
Giants: San Francisco begins a brief departure from AT&T Park as the Bay Bridge Series stage switches to Oakland for a two-game series beginning Wednesday at 7:05 p.m. PT. Right-hander Jake Peavy will start for the Giants. After that pair of games, the Giants will visit the Arizona Diamondbacks for a three-game series before returning home for six games leading into the All-Star break.

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