The A’s broke through in the ninth inning again Thursday against David Robertson.
Billy Butler’s three-run homer off the White Sox closer sent Oakland to a 4-2 victory to earn the A’s a split of a four-game series in Chicago. The A’s entered the ninth trailing 2-1. But after Brett Lawrie doubled with one out and Danny Valencia singled to put runners on the corners, Butler drove an 0-1 pitch to the opposite field. Sox right fielder Avisail Garcia nearly made a leaping catch, but the ball bounced out of his glove and over the wall, and suddenly the A’s were ahead.
Sean Doolittle put the leadoff batter aboard in the bottom of the ninth, but Doolittle coaxed a 1-6-3 double play off the bat of Tyler Saladino to nip the rally in the bud, then struck out pinch hitter Gordon Beckham to end it and earn his first victory of 2015.
In Monday’s series opener, the A’s rallied for four runs off Robertson in the ninth in a game they eventually lost in 14 innings. Thursday’s comeback makes them 3-4 on this 10-game road trip as they head to Houston.
Starting pitching report
Sean Nolin went five innings and gave up two runs. He had a 1-0 lead when he surrendered a deep two-out homer to Mike Olt in the fourth. He walked two in the fifth and then Melky Cabrera’s run-scoring single gave Chicago a 2-1 lead.
Nolin struck out four and walked three.
Fernando Rodriguez threw two innings in relief of Nolin, then Doolittle (1-0) turned in his first outing of more than one inning this season. He threw 26 pitches.
At the plate
Butler drove in eight runs during the Chicago series and homered Thursday for the second game in a row. He has four home runs and 14 RBI over his past 12 games, and the A’s can only hope that this late-season hot streak is a sign that better things might be in store for their designated hitter in 2016.
Lawrie went 3-for-4, and Marcus Semien got the A’s on the board in the third with a two-out RBI single that scored Josh Phegley.
In the field
The comebacker double play in the bottom of the ninth was slickly turned. After Tyler Flowers led off with a single, Saladino hit a comebacker to Doolittle, who fired an accurate feed to Semien at second, and Semien made a nifty turn to complete the play and dash the White Sox’s comeback hopes.
The A’s move on to Houston to wrap up this 10-game road trip. Felix Doubront (3-2, 4.99) takes the mound against Mike Fiers (7-10, 3.67) in Friday’s 5:10pm opener. On Saturday, Sonny Gray (13-7, 2.56) and Scott Kazmir (7-10, 2.63) stage a rematch from the A’s last homestand, in a 4:10pm game. Sunday’s series finale pits Aaron Brooks (1-3, 7.44) against Collin McHugh (16-7, 4.05) in an 11:10am game.