OAKLAND – After all the hype, and two pitching performances that failed to live up to it, there was still a baseball game to finish at the Coliseum on Saturday.
The A’s and Giants provided a wild one, as rookie Jarrett Parker’s three-homer day lifted San Francisco to a 14-10 victory over the A’s to even the Bay Bridge Series at a game apiece.
The day began as a much-anticipated trip down memory lane, with Barry Zito starting for the A’s and Tim Hudson going for the Giants. Both veterans were gone by the third inning, clearing the stage for Parker, who treated a sellout crowd to a solo homer to left in the second, a two-run shot to center in the seventh and a grand slam to right in the eighth off Ryan Dull that broke a 10-10 tie. The left fielder finished with seven RBI.
Zito and Hudson provided the nostalgia, they just couldn’t provide the outs. They combined for just 3 1/3 innings and seven hits, four walks and six earned runs allowed.
And they suffered different ailments. Zito couldn’t keep the ball off the barrel of the bat over two-plus innings, allowing six hits and four runs. Hudson’s problem was the strike zone. He was gone after 1 1/3 innings, walking three and hitting two batters before departing.
Both pitchers, two-thirds of the “Big Three” pitching trio that rose to stardom with the A’s in the early 2000’s, were showered with adoration from the moment they took the field for warm-ups. Each walked off the mound at the conclusion of their respective outings to more standing applause, as green and gold-clad fans gave Hudson as much love as orange and black-clad fans showed for Zito.
Starting pitching report
Zito, who spent all season at Triple-A before a surprise mid-September call-up, made his first major league start since Sept. 25, 2013, when he wore a San Francisco uniform. He gave up two runs in the first, when Marlon Byrd hit a curve for a two-run double off the wall in center. In the second, Parker sent his first homer out to left, an opposite field shot. An Angel Pagan double and a Kelby Tomlinson RBI single made it 4-0. Zito was pulled after walking Buster Posey to begin the third.
Parker victimized the A’s bullpen twice. He greeted Drew Pomeranz with a two-run homer to center in the seventh on the first pitch thrown by the lefty. Dull, who gave up Parker’s monster homer Friday night for the first run allowed in his career, was brought on with the bases loaded in the eighth. Parker again jumped on the first pitch, rocketing a grand slam to right that made it 14-10 Giants.
At the plate
Hudson’s command issues were the story of the A’s second-inning rally, when they scored three times without the benefit of a hit. But several hitters stepped up on a day that maximum offense was an absolute requirement for whatever team wanted to win. Billy Butler lined a two-run homer off the left field foul pole in the sixth that gave Oakland a 10-7 lead at the time. It marked his second homer of the series, and his sixth homer in 23 games this month. He has 15 on the season. Eric Sogard, getting more playing time recently because of his hot bat, drove in three runs, including a two-run double in the A’s fve-run third in which they batted around and took an 8-4 lead. Billy Burns also doubled home two runs in that rally.
In the field
Parker fought the sun, and perhaps his own balance, in the bottom of the third when he let Mark Canha’s catchable fly ball drop for a run-scoring double that appeared like it would be the third out.
A’s third baseman Danny Valencia looked like he might have had a chance to snare Matt Duffy’s sharp single that went to left field in the first, which contributed to the two runs off Zito that inning. But Valencia responded with a backhand play on Marlon Byrd’s grounder in the sixth and a long throw across the diamond for the out. After Parker’s two-run shot off Pomeranz brought the Giants within 10-9, Josh Reddick made a great throw to nail Trevor Brown, who tried to stretch a single into a double in the seventh.
It was no surprise to see a sellout crowd of 36,067 on hand considering the storyline coming in.
Sean Nolin (1-1, 4.57) and Chris Heston (11-10, 3.51) will close out this series in Sunday’s 1:05 p.m. finale, the A’s last home game of 2015.