OAKLAND – The boos rained down early from the home crowd Sunday afternoon, and surely Jed Lowrie and Josh Donaldson heard them.
Both players made glaring defensive miscues in a two-run top of the third that gave the St. Louis Cardinals a three-run lead. Then both redeemed themselves in a big way during the A’s 7-5 victory that clinched a three-game series for Oakland against one of the major leagues’ heavyweights.
Lowrie’s two-out fielding error in the top of the third led to a Cardinals’ run that gave the visitors a 5-2 lead. But the A’s battled back, and Lowrie provided the exclamation mark with a two-run homer in the fourth off Jake Westbrook that put the A’s ahead for good, 6-5.
Donaldson appeared to lose a routine pop-up in the sun in the third and let it drop for a single, aiding the Cards’ two-run rally. It appeared to light a fire under him, as the third baseman made an impressive running catch of Matt Carpenter’s foul pop in the fourth, then added a diving stop and throw to first to rob Allen Craig in the seventh. Donaldson followed up that play with an opposite-field solo homer in the bottom of the seventh to give the A’s a two-run cushion.
Starting pitching report
Tommy Milone appeared destined for a quick exit Sunday afternoon. He allowed three home runs in his first 10 hitters faced, as the A’s trailed 5-2 after two and a half innings. But the left-hander steadied himself and saved manager Bob Melvin an early call to his bullpen. Milone lasted six innings, giving up seven hits and five runs (four earned). He struck out five and walked two. It was an impressive outing considering Milone hardly had his ‘A’ game. But the lefty is weathering through a tough stretch of late. Over his last three starts, Milone has allowed 13 earned runs and 21 hits in 16 innings. But he did snap a four-start winless streak.
Solid work was turned in by Sean Doolittle, Ryan Cook and Grant Balfour to ice the victory for Milone. No late-inning drama, just how Melvin likes it.
At the plate
It was a strong day up and down the lineup card. The A’s banged out 12 hits, led by Lowrie (2 for 4, 3 RBI). Donaldson, Yoenis Cespedes and Seth Smith all had two hits. Lowrie is on a tear during a nine-game hitting streak that has tied his career high.
In the field
It was a comedy of errors – literally – in the early-going by both teams. Aside from the defensive mistakes by Donaldson and Lowrie, the Cardinals committed two errors during Oakland’s two-run third that cut St. Louis’ lead to 5-4. But Donaldson’s catch of Carpenter’s foul pop to end the top of the fourth was impressive. He ran full-speed toward the seats along the third-base line, made a lunging catch and toppled over the roll of tarp that sits against the fence. He fell head-first between the tarp and the padded railing, his spikes sticking up in the air. It was a fearless play, and another sign that Donaldson deserves strong All-Star consideration.
Included in the crowd of 20,673 was one fan wearing a No. 12 Todd Walker A’s jersey…gotta be a relative.
The A’s take Monday off before hosting a three-game series against the Chicago Cubs, who will make their first trip to Oakland in franchise history. A.J. Griffin (6-6, 3.56) opposes Scott Feldman (7-6, 3.46) in Tuesday’s 7:05 p.m. opener. Bartolo Colon (11-2, 2.79) goes against Matt Garza (3-1, 3.82) on Wednesday night. Assuming he’s healthy, Jarrod Parker (6-6, 4.11) matches up with Travis Wood (5-6, 2.85) in a 1:05 p.m. holiday start Thursday.