Athletics 2, Orioles 1

After Jarrod Parker and Chris Tillman waged a magnificent

pitching duel for eight innings, it became apparent that a tense

matchup between the Oakland Athletics and Baltimore Orioles was

going to be decided by each team’s bullpen.

Coco Crisp had a say in the matter, too.

Crisp hit a tiebreaking homer off Darren O’Day leading off the

ninth, providing Oakland with a 2-1 victory Saturday and handing

Parker his eighth straight win.

Parker (10-6) gave up one run, five hits and three walks to

improve to 8-0 in 16 starts since May 22. The right-hander threw

117 pitches and worked out of jams in the sixth and eighth

innings.

When he walked off the mound for the last time, Parker knew he

was done. Instead of retreating to the clubhouse, he watched as

Crisp lined a breaking ball from O’Day (5-3) over the right field

wall.

”It’s gratifying that the guys are just able to pick you up,”

Parker said. ”It’s one of those things where it almost seems like

it’s meant to be when it happens.”

Maybe it was. Crisp thought he’d received ball four earlier in

the at-bat. He ended up trotting around the bases rather than

jogging to first base.

”Tried to bunt, tried to walk, and I was still in the at-bat

and I was able to get a pitch,” said Crisp, who has homered in

each of his last three games.

Asked if he’d like to have that pitch back, O’Day said, ”I’d

like to have all of them back to him. I got behind in the count and

he was looking for his pitch. I’ve got to be ahead in the count, so

yeah, he got what he wanted and he did what he wanted with

it.”

Oakland manager Bob Melvin had no intention of sending Parker

back out in the ninth. So he called upon closer Grant Balfour, who

got three straight outs for his 32nd save.

”There’s no doubt he’s done,” Melvin said of Parker. ”Good

thing there are pitch counts. Both of those guys, that game might

have gone on for a while. Both those guys were dominant today. It

usually takes one swing of the bat, defensive play, whatever, and

it was Coco’s late. It was good to reward Jarrod because, boy, he

pitched about as good as you can pitch.”

So did Tillman, who allowed one run, three hits and two walks

but remained winless since Aug. 2. His nine strikeouts tied a

career high, set earlier this month in San Francisco.

”Tilly bent but didn’t break a couple times,” manager Buck

Showalter said. ”It’s frustrating. We end up on the losing side,

but watching two guys at the top of their craft matching each

other, you knew there was going to be a fine margin of error.”

Kurt Suzuki doubled and scored a run in his first game back with

Oakland after being traded from Washington on Friday. The victory

broke a three-game skid for the A’s, who improved to 16-17 since

the All-Star break and solidified their hold on the second and

final AL wild-card slot.

Ryan Flaherty homered for the Orioles, who have lost seven of

11.

”In the playoff race, it’s important. Every game is

important,” Tillman said. ”A loss always stinks. They’re never

fun.”

Parker retired the first seven batters he faced before Flaherty

hit his first home run since Aug. 2. Six of his eight homers have

been solo shots.

Oakland didn’t get its first hit until Jed Lowrie singled with

one out in the fourth.

Tillman didn’t allow another baserunner until Suzuki doubled to

left with one out in the sixth. He advanced on a groundout and

scored on double by Lowrie.

Manny Machado began the Baltimore sixth with his major

league-leading 44th double. With two outs and runners at the

corners, Nick Markakis hit an opposite-field fly to left that was

caught on the warning track.

The Orioles got runners at first and third with two outs in the

eighth before Matt Wieters grounded out to shortstop.

NOTES: Twelve of Crisp’s 13 home runs have been solo shots, and

nine have put the A’s ahead. … Athletics RHP Bartolo Colon

(strained left groin) will throw a bullpen session Monday when the

team goes to Detroit. Colon was placed on the 15-day disabled list

Aug. 17 when he hurt himself throwing on flat ground. … Scott

Feldman (3-3) makes his ninth start for Baltimore in the series

finale Sunday. Sonny Gray will pitch for the A’s. He has allowed

four hits or fewer in each of his first three career starts.