SAN DIEGO – It was only fitting that Billy Burns wound up having a final say in Tuesday’s game.
The A’s electrifying rookie center fielder already had a highlight-reel catch at the wall and a two-run triple to his credit against the San Diego Padres. In the top of the ninth, he put himself in position to score the winning run in a 6-5 A’s victory at Petco Park.
Burns walked with two outs and then stole second. Eric Sogard followed by chopping a single up the middle off Craig Kimbrel to break a 5-5 tie. Tyler Clippard closed it out with a 1-2-3 bottom of the ninth and the A’s swept two in San Diego to run their winning streak to three games.
It was a day that featured a little bit of everything. Burns robbed Justin Upton of a homer in the bottom of the first with his outstanding catch. Then A’s starter Scott Kazmir, of all people, got the A’s on the scoreboard with a run-scoring single in the fifth, when the A’s scored three times to take a 3-2 lead.
The Padres’ Melvin Upton Jr. tied the game in the bottom of the fifth when he attempted a steal of home and Kazmir was called for a balk. Despite the A’s bullpen surrendering yet another late lead, Oakland closed out the win and now hosts the Padres for two more at the Coliseum starting Wednesday.
Starting pitching report:
The Padres took an early lead on Austin Hedges’ homer in the third and added another run off Kazmir in the fourth when Clint Barmes laid down a safety squeeze to score Justin Upton and make it 2-0.
Kazmir couldn’t have bargained for getting such a workout when he wasn’t on the mound. After his run-scoring single in the fifth got the A’s on the board, he motored around from first to score on Burns’ go-ahead two-run triple, though it was more like a coast by the time Kazmir rounded third and crossed home plate.
Perhaps sensing Kazmir might be winded after his base running, the Padres tested him in the bottom half of that inning. Pitcher Andrew Cashner bunted into an out on a ball fielded by third baseman Brett Lawrie. Then Melvin Upton Jr., pushed a bunt to the right side that Kazmir threw wildly to first on for an error. Upton Jr. stole second on Kazmir’s pickoff throw to first. He was on third with two outs when he broke on a straight steal attempt of home. Kazmir, beginning his motion out of the windup, shuffled his feet and was called for a balk, allowing the tying run to score.
That was Kazmir’s final inning. He allowed three runs (two earned) in five innings, striking out six and walking one.
For the second consectuvie outing, Evan Scribner gave up a homer to surrender a lead. Matt Kemp connected for a tying solo shot in the eighth with two outs, right after Scribner had induced a double play that scored a run to narrow it to 5-4. Scribner has allowed three homers in his past two outings.
At the plate:
An A’s pitcher hadn’t recorded a hit in more than two years before Kazmir stepped to the plate with two runners aboard and two outs in the top of the fifth. After lining a foul ball to the left side on the first pitch from Andrew Cashner, Kazmir worked the count to 2-2 and then lashed a 96 mile-per-hour fastball just inside the third-base line for an RBI single that scored Max Muncy. Kazmir, whose entire 11-year career has been spent in the American League, was just 2-for-23 for his career before that hit. Tommy Milone was the last A’s pitcher to previously log a hit on July 3, 2013. He was also the last Oakland pitcher before Kazmir to log an RBI, which also came on that day.
The A’s led 3-2 before the Padres tied it in the bottom of the fifth. Then Ben Zobrist put the A’s back up 5-3 when he cranked a two-run homer in the sixth.
In the field:
In Kazmir’s previous start, Burns made two outstanding catches in center. He added another one in the first Tuesday, going back to the wall and making a leaping catch to rob Justin Upton of what would have been a homer, judging by the replays. Burns wound up getting the ball back to the infield quickly enough to double Yonder Alonso off first and end the inning.
This four-game home-and-home series with the Padres now shifts to the Coliseum. Wednesday – Jesse Chavez (2-6, 2.64) vs. Odrisamer Despaigne (3-4, 4.38), 7:05 p.m. Thursday – Kendall Graveman (3-3, 4.22) vs. Ian Kennedy (3-5, 5.84), 12:35 p.m. Both games will air on CSN California.