After a frantic rally in the top of the ninth to tie it, the A’s were eventually victimized by the White Sox’s own late-inning heroics Monday night.
Melky Cabrera’s walk-off single off Arnold Leon in the bottom of the 14th handed the A’s an 8-7 defeat in a game that clocked in at 5 hours, 9 minutes. It marked Oakland’s longest game of the season, both in innings played and time elapsed. Cabrera lined a 1-2 pitch into right field with two outs to score former Athletic Geovany Soto, who singled to lead off the inning.
Chicago's game-winning rally took place five innings after the A’s staged a four-run rally in the ninth off White Sox closer David Robertson to extend the game.
The A's comeback included a strike-three wild pitch that allowed Danny Valencia to reach base and a catcher's interference call that put Josh Reddick aboard to load the bases. Coco Crisp worked a walk to bring home a run. Sam Fuld delivered a two-run single to make it 7-6, and Crisp scored the tying run on a passed ball from Sox catcher Tyler Flowers.
The comeback took A’s ace Sonny Gray off the hook for what seemed a sure loss. Gray got knocked around for the second time in three starts, which surely delivered a hit to his Cy Young hopes too.
Gray turned in the shortest outing of his career, lasting just three innings and getting tagged for a career-high seven earned runs. He walked four and allowed eight hits, including a pair of two-run homers in the third inning.
Starting pitching report
In his first start of September, Gray surrendered six runs to take the loss against the Angels. He bounced back in his last outing before Monday, holding the Houston Astros scoreless through seven innings. But he hung several breaking pitches against Chicago, and White Sox hitters made him pay.
Gray saw his ERA shoot from 2.28 to 2.56. He’s led the AL in that category for much of the season, a main reason he’s been among the leading contenders for the Cy Young award despite a win-loss record that doesn’t turn heads. With his ERA headed the wrong direction and just three starts remaining as the A’s rotation currently sets up, Gray faces an uphill battle to bring the award home.
Both of Gray’s homers came on breaking balls that caught too much plate. Jose Abreu mashed a two-run shot in the third that erased the A’s 1-0 lead. Three batters later, Sox rookie outfielder Trayce Thompson, the younger brother of Warriors star Klay Thompson, launched a curveball for another two-run shot and a 4-1 Chicago lead. In Gray’s first 22 starts, he allowed just eight homers. He's surrendered exactly that many over his past seven starts.
Gray’s short night left a lot of work for Oakland’s relievers, and a silver lining for the A’s was the two-inning outing of Fernando Rodriguez. He recorded three straight outs to strand a runner at third in the fourth, and notched four strikeouts in two scoreless frames.
[STIGLICH: Mujica to miss time with strained hamstring]
Rookie Ryan Dull worked his way through a white-knuckle bottom of the ninth, stranding the bases loaded to send it to extras. All told, the A’s bullpen stranded runners on third base in three of the final six innings.
At the plate
Three solo homers accounted for all of the A’s offense until the ninth. Jake Smolinski connected off John Danks (8-12) to break a scoreless tie in the third. Brett Lawrie, hitting third against the lefty, went deep in the fourth to slice Oakland’s deficit to 4-2. Then, with the Sox ahead 7-2, Josh Reddick homered to right in the seventh. That was the 17th of the season for Reddick, putting him one behind Stephen Vogt for the team lead.
In the field
The two-run homer made it a big night for Thompson, who got his first major league call-up from the Sox in August. But he left the game in the top of the ninth after trying to make a diving catch on Lawrie’s double to right. Thompson suffered an injury to his left elbow.
The A’s get their second look at former teammate Jeff Samardzija (9-12, 4.89) in Tuesday’s 5:10 p.m. game. He threw eight innings of three-run ball to beat them at the Coliseum back in May. Aaron Brooks (1-3, 7.44) is trying to reverse a trend that’s seen him post a 9.49 ERA over three starts since coming back from Triple-A Nashville. He’ll take the mound for Oakland.