Jarrod Parker threw another gem on Saturday afternoon in Baltimore, holding the Orioles to one run on five hits in eight innings.
Coco Crisp, continuing his offensive tear, made sure the A’s right-hander picked up his tenth win of the season with a big go-ahead home run against Darren O’Day in the ninth inning.
The A’s had trouble mustering much offense against Baltimore starter Chris Tillman, picking up their first base hit of the day in the fourth inning (a Jed Lowrie single).
In the bottom of the third, the O’s struck first – Ryan Flaherty clubbed a solo home run to right field, shooting Baltimore out to a 1-0 lead. This would prove to be Parker’s only blemish on the day, which resulted in a stellar line of 8 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 3 BB, 5 K.
The A’s finally made some noise against Tillman in the sixth. New/old A’s catcher Kurt Suzuki, making his first appearance since being acquired in a trade on Thursday night with the Washington Nationals, cracked a one-out double. Crisp hit a comebacker, advancing Suzuki to third with two outs. Faced with the tough job of bringing in the tying run with two outs against the stingy Tillman, Lowrie came through with a double of his own, knotting things up at 1-1. Josh Donaldson grounded out to end the inning, but the A’s came through with a runner in scoring position, something they’ve had issues with lately.
Parker wiggled out of a tough spot in the bottom of the sixth – Manny Machado doubled leading off the inning, with the dangerous Chris Davis/Adam Jones/Matt Wieters portion of the lineup due up. Parker got Davis to pop to short, walked Jones, retired Wieters on a fielder’s choice, putting runners on the corners with two outs. Nick Markakis flew out to Yoenis Cespedes in left to end the inning, as Parker managed to evade some serious danger.
In the bottom of the eighth, a leadoff Nate McClouth single turned into a runner on second with one out. Rather than go to the A’s bullpen, Bob Melvin opted to leave Parker in to face the meat of the Orioles’ order, and it paid off . After Chris Davis walked, Jones hit into a fielder’s choice that put runners on the corners with two outs for Wieters – but he grounded to short to end the inning and preserve the 1-1 tie.
That tie would’nt last, though, for a good reason – against side-arming right-handed reliever Darren O’Day in the ninth, Crisp lofted a 3-1 pitch over the wall in right field for a solo home run, his 13th homer of the season.
The 2-1 lead proved enough for Grant Balfour, who sailed past Markakis (called third strike), J.J. Hardy (comebacker) and Flaherty (swinging third strike) for the save, locking up a much-needed win for the A’s.
Oakland picked up a game on the Texas Rangers in the standings, as the White Sox defeated Texas 3-2 in Chicago – so the A’s now trail the Rangers by 2.5 games in the West.
The A’s (72-56) will look to pick up a series win against the Orioles tomorrow when Sonny Gray (1-1, 1.44 ERA) takes on Scott Feldman (10-9, 3.94 ERA) at 10:35 a.m. PDT.