ANAHEIM – It goes in the books as one excellent road trip for the A’s, but it sure could have ended sweeter.
Their bullpen coughed up another lead in the ninth inning, and the A’s went on to lose 5-4 in the 12th to the Los Angeles Angels on Wednesday night . Chris Iannetta homered off Drew Pomeranz with two outs in the bottom of the 12th to end the second marathon game between these teams in as many nights.
The A’s and Angels combined to play 23 innings and more than eight hours combined over the final two games of this three-game series.
The A’s still finished 7-2 on their three-city road trip, and they return to the Bay Area with a 10-5 record and a two-game lead over the Texas Rangers for first place in the American League West.
Iannetta hit the first pitch from Pomeranz over the wall in center field.
The A’s took a 4-3 lead into the ninth, but Luke Gregerson couldn’t hold it – the second blown save for the A’s bullpen in as many nights. Howie Kendrick’s fielders’ choice grounder brought home the tying run off Gregerson.
Starting pitching report
After allowing 10 hits in his season debut at Seattle, Tommy Milone was in sharper form in his second start. The lefty went six innings and was charged with three runs (two earned). He gave up six hits, walked two and struck out one. Nothing flashy, but it was the kind of effectiveness the A’s need from Milone.
The A’s burned through five relievers Wednesday. Luckily they have a day off Thursday to recover before opening a six-game homestand Friday against Houston.
At the plate
Anybody notice that Alberto Callaspo entered the night with the American League’s second-highest batting average (.368)? The switch hitter has done his damage quietly. He drove in the A’s first run with a double down the left-field line that scored Josh Donaldson in the fourth. He is .563 (9 for 16) with runners on base.
Brandon Moss delivered what appeared to be the game-changer in the fourth, drilling a three-run shot off Tyler Skaggs that reached the right-field seats in a hurry. It was Moss’ 68th career home run, but just his ninth off a left-hander. His second homer of the season gave the A’s a 4-1 lead.
In the field
The A’s just aren’t playing their sharpest defense in the early going of 2014. They committed two errors, including a boot by normally sure-handed third baseman Josh Donaldson on a routine grounder in the eighth. On the previous batter, Derek Norris let a third strike get past him for a passed ball and Chris Iannetta reached base. Neither of those wound up hurting the A’s.
Callaspo drew attention in his second start at first base, and not in a good way. He couldn’t handle a low but catchable throw that would have completed a double play in the sixth, though it should be noted that he did haul in a tougher throw on the next batter that completed an inning-ending double play. But in the seventh, Callaspo made a poor throw to second while trying to get a force play that went for an error, and it contributed to a two-run Angels’ rally that sliced Oakland’s lead to 4-3.
Later that inning, Moss turned in a gem in right field. Howie Kendrick drove a ball deep to right and Moss made a terrific catch while running back toward the wall to end the inning and keep the A’s in the lead for the time being.
Donaldson committed the routine error, but he also made a slick backhanded stop and throw across the diamond to retire David Freese to end the ninth and send the game to extras.
A crowd of 37,344 was on hand for a second night of bonus baseball. Up next
The A’s return home Friday and open a three-game series against the Houston Astros. The 7:05 p.m. opener pits Sonny Gray (2-0, 0.95) against Jarred Cosart (1-1, 4.00). On Saturday, Scott Kazmir (2-0, 1.40) matches up against Brett Oberholtzer (0-3, 3.50) in a 1:05 p.m. game. Jesse Chavez (0-0, 1.35) takes on former A’s prospect Brad Peacock (0-1, 6.00) Sunday at 1:05 p.m.