OAKLAND, Calif. — Josh Donaldson hit a tying two-run home run in the ninth inning and Brandon Moss hit a game-ending three-run homer in the 10th, and the Oakland Athletics gained ground on the first-place Texas Rangers with a stunning 7-4 win over the Seattle Mariners on Saturday.
Coco Crisp singled off Oliver Perez (1-3) leading off the final inning for his fourth hit. Stephen Pryor entered with one out and walked Yoenis Cespedes on four pitches. Moss hammered the first pitch against Pryor well over the wall in right for his 21st home run, sending Oakland streaming out of the dugout to celebrate its major-league leading 14th walk-off win. The A’s are 2½ games back of Texas in the division and 2½ ahead of the Los Angeles Angels for the final wild card. The Angels-Rangers game in Texas was being delayed by inclement weather. Oakland hosts Texas in the final three games of the season starting Monday. Donaldson’s drive off Tom Wilhelmsen in the ninth landed just over the wall in center field for his eighth home run to start Oakland’s latest rally. Grant Balfour (3-2) pitched a perfect inning to earn the win. With each game becoming bigger than the last, the A’s have shown no signs of a young team overwhelmed by the pressure.
Players tossed a football around during batting practice. Right fielder Josh Reddick was even in a camouflage shirt and punting the ball in flip-flops. The laid-back approach carried over again — just not at first. Dan Straily allowed four runs, four walks and three hits in 4 1-3 innings while striking out three. The A’s usually stout defense did the rookie starter no favors, either.
John Jaso walked leading off the second inning and took advantage of a pair of errors for Seattle’s first run. Justin Smoak grounded out to Moss, who stepped on first base and threw the ball into left field. Cespedes tried to throw out Jaso at third and instead sailed the ball into Oakland’s dugout, allowing Jaso to score and give the Mariners a 1-0 lead.
Kyle Seager hit a solo shot over the wall in center and Michael Saunders lined a two-run homer to right to put Seattle ahead 4-0 in the fourth. It was the 19th home run for each this season.
Cespedes singled and scored from first on Moss’ single in the bottom of the inning. Cespedes was stealing second on the play, and his hesitation around third base fooled right fielder Casper Wells just enough to slide in safely and slice Seattle’s lead to 4-1.
Once again, Jason Vargas quieted the A’s for most
He struck out seven and walked none in seven innings. The lefty is 3-1 and has allowed only 10 runs in six starts against Oakland this season.
Oakland put two runners on with one out in the eighth against reliever Carter Capps. Wilhelmsen entered get Cespedes to pop out on the first pitch and a stellar defensive play behind him seemingly put Oakland away.
Moss doubled scored Coco Crisp and Stephen Drew was waived home from first by third base Mike Gallego. Second baseman Dustin Ackley’s relay throw from Wells in right easily got Drew out at home to end the inning and leave the possible tying run stranded at second.
NOTES: A’s LHP Brett Anderson (4-2, 2.57 ERA), who strained his right oblique Sept. 19 after a strong return from last year’s Tommy John surgery, played toss from 120 feet before the game. He will pitch a bullpen session as soon as Monday, and could be back if the A’s make the playoffs. ... Mariners CF Franklin Gutierrez returned after sitting out Friday. Lefty Tommy Milone (13-10, 3.74 ERA) starts for Oakland opposite Mariners RHP Erasmo Ramirez (1-3, 3.42 ERA) in Sunday’s series finale.