OAKLAND -- The Oakland Athletics were so close that they could practically taste the walk-off pie. With several brooms visible in the crowd, the A's rallied but fell just short in a 5-4 loss to the Los Angeles Angels. The loss snapped the A's 13-game winning streak against the American League West.
[RECAP: Angels 5, A's 4]
They had reason to be confident. The A's were 22-0 over the Angels in the last three seasons when scoring four or more runs and had won the previous five games against their Southern California rivals.
The A's rallied for two runs in the eighth inning and had the winning run at the plate in the ninth inning with two outs, but pinch-hitter Eric Sogard popped out. The A's came back from a deficit and walked off with a win in the previous two games and thought they were about to do it again.
"By now we are used to it," A's starting pitcher Tommy Milone said. "When we get in that situation late in the game where we feel we have the ability to tie it or win it, we feel like we are going to."
The A's led Major League Baseball with 15 walk-off wins in 2012. They already have three in this season, but they had to put away the pie tins and the Reddi-wip this time.
Lately, the A's live and die by the performance of Yoenis Cespedes. After going 5-10 with him on the disabled list, the A's had won all three games since his return prior to Wednesday's loss. In the ninth inning Cespedes reached base when he was hit by an inside fastball thrown by Ernesto Frieri, but he over-slid second base on a stolen base attempt and made the first out.
Josh Donaldson and Josh Reddick each drew walks to keep the A's hopes of winning alive, but the rally fell short.
"That's the kind of team we are," Adam Rosales said. "We battle, we're grinders, we're going to fight to the end."
It might have been a different story if the Angels didn't score in the eighth inning. Cespedes lost his footing on the warning track in center field and fell down allowing Mike Trout to reach third base. He scored on a sacrifice fly by Albert Pujols to make it 5-2.
Reddick may only be hitting .148, but later in that inning he turned around the game and gave the A's a chance to win with his defensive effort. The Gold Glove right fielder made a perfect throw to catch Josh Hamilton attempting to run from first to third on a two-out single by Howie Kendrick. Mark Trumbo was on the verge of easily scoring from second, but Hamilton made the third out before Trumbo crossed home plate.
"That was a huge play," Rosales said. "That's a game saver if we come through with the offense. He is just a great asset out there."
After the Angels lost an all but certain run, the A's answered with two runs in the next frame to cut their deficit to one.
Reddick snapped out of an 0-for-15 slump with a single and reached base in all five trips to the plate. The A's will need him to rise to the occasion with Coco Crisp on the disabled list with a strained left hamstring. Chris Young missed his second game in a row with a left quad strain, but sprinted in the outfield prior to the game and could return to the lineup on Friday.
Milone threw seven innings for the A's to give the relievers a much-needed break. He allowed four runs on seven hits and no walks and struck out a career high-tying 10 batters.
"We needed it," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "We only had to use a couple of guys today and then with an off-day we're in reasonable shape."
Milone allowed three home runs all on his fastball. In the sixth inning, the Angels took the lead when Trout and Trumbo each hit home runs to left field.
"Both of them were supposed to be in and we just sort of left them over the plate," Milone said.
The A's lefty has lost his last three decisions after starting the season 3-0. Angels' starting pitcher C.J. Wilson escaped with the win. He threw 36 pitches in the first inning, but managed to recover and only allow two runs over 6 1/3 innings.
The A's had their chances to capitalize, but couldn't issue the knockout blow. They left 13 runners on base and went 4-for-12 with runners in scoring position.
"We were grinding pretty good," Melvin said. "It was a game that we were behind and we came back again. We had the winning run at the plate again, which means you're giving yourself some opportunities."
One of the players that capitalized most on his opportunity was A's designated hitter Luke Montz. He was recalled prior to the game when Crisp was placed on the DL and arrived 45 minutes before the game.
The 29-year-old catcher ended up 1-for-4 with a double and an RBI. He also just missed a home run to deep right field.
"I landed at 10:45 a.m. and had some guys help me grab my bags, jumped in the taxi and said 'Get me there fast!'" Montz recalled. "I don't think (the driver) did under 110 mph the whole way here."
Montz had time to get his uniform on and take around 20 swings in the cage before the game. His last trip to the big leagues was in 2008 as a member of the Washington Nationals. He was signed by the A's as a minor league free agent this offseason.
Montz gets back on a plane Thursday when the A's head to New York to open a 10-game road trip against the Yankees on Friday.
The day off couldn't come at a better time. The A's played a combined 13 hours and 46 minutes in this three game series with the Angels, making it the longest three-game series by time in Oakland history.