Angels 5, Athletics 4, 11 innings. Hometown lead. With AP Photos.By RICK EYMERAssociated Press
Coco Crisp and Yoenis Cespedes again delivered for the Athletics. Oakland’s usually reliable closer let an opportunity slip away.
Josh Hamilton hit a tying two-run homer in the ninth inning against Grant Balfour and then put the Angels ahead with a sacrifice fly in the 11th, leading Los Angeles over the A’s 5-4 Wednesday.
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”He’s had a great year if you look at it overall,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. ”Three blown saves is going to do it anywhere. He had good stuff today. He got one fastball not to the right spot against a pretty good fastball hitter.”
Balfour set an Oakland record with his 41st consecutive save earlier in the season. His 38 saves this season is most by an A’s pitcher since Keith Foulke had 43 in 2003. He gave up a run to the Angels for the first time this year.
”He’s got a great slider and zip on his fastball,” Hamilton said. ”I was just hoping to get a pitch to hit.”
Crisp and Cespedes each hit two-run home runs for the A’s, who lost for the third time in 12 games. But they have a six-game lead over Texas in the AL West. The Rangers play at Tampa Bay later Wednesday.
”We’ve had tough losses and dramatic wins,” Melvin said. ”You just put this away and come back expecting to win.”
Josh Donaldson, the star of Tuesday night’s walkoff win over the Angels, fumbled a sacrifice bunt attempt for an error in the 11th that led to the go-ahead run.
”I felt like I came in a little too aggressively,” Donaldson said. ”My legs weren’t really under me. That’s one of those plays I really expect to make every time. I wasn’t able to do it today. I felt it was one of those fluke things.”
A’s starter A.J. Griffin gave up a two-run homer to Mike Trout with one out in the first. He retired 17 of the last 18 batters he faced.
”He’s good at baseball,” Griffin said of Trout. ”I was trying to get him to miss-hit, but he got it.”
Griffin allowed two runs on one hit. He walked two and struck out six.
”I’m able to repeat my delivery more often,” Griffin said. ”I can get the ball and let it fly.”
Following Jed Lowrie’s single leading off the fifth, the A’s were held to one hit the rest of the way.
Griffin, who gave up his major league-leading 35th homer, faced three over the minimum. He walked leadoff hitter Shuck and got Aybar to fly out to center ahead of Trout’s 26th home run. The only other baserunner was Mark Trumbo, who walked with two outs in the fourth.
”I heard that Bert Blyleven and Catfish Hunter also gave up a lot of home runs and they had pretty good careers,” Griffin said. ”You just try to minimize the damage.”
Angels’ starter Vargas hit Donaldson in the first inning, sparking a warning to both teams from home plate umpire Jerry Meals.
Donaldson waved it off.
”Trout got hit pretty good last night,” he said. ”He might not have been throwing at me. Watching tape it looks like he comes inside to set up other pitches.”
Josh Reddick led off the third with a single. One out later, Crisp tied the score with a drive over the left field wall. Donaldson flew out but Lowrie followed with a single ahead of Cespedes’ 24th home run.
NOTES: RHP Dan Straily (10-7, 4.11) starts for the A’s when they open a series against the Minnesota Twins on Thursday night. He’s won his last four starts. … Crews were still cleaning up the mess left by Tuesday night’s sewage problem in the A’s dugout. … A’s owner Lew Wolff talked to the media beforehand about the playoffs and extra seating available with the third level tarp being removed. … Only Rickey Henderson (28 in 1990) and Bert Campaneris (22 in 1970) have hit more home runs from the leadoff spot than Crisp.