OAKLAND — After tumbling into a 7-0 hole early on, the Oakland Athletics managed to bring the winning run to the plate in the bottom of the ninth.
Zach Britton — the Baltimore Orioles’ flawless closer — made sure the home team wouldn’t get any closer that than.
With the bases loaded in the ninth, Britton got Danny Valencia to ground out to second to end the game and spoil the A’s chance of earning a four-game sweep.
“Obviously, we’re not happy with the loss,” Stephen Vogt said after the comeback fell short in the 9-6 defeat on Thursday afternoon. “But we’ve got to be happy with the effort and taking three of four and the season series from a team like that. That’s nothing to [hang] your head about.”
Britton, who hasn’t allowed a run since May 5th, is now 35 for 35 in saves attempts.
“That’s a really good team and a really good bullpen over there,” Vogt said.
With a strong breeze rolling through the Coliseum, Oakland starting pitcher Andrew Triggs faced off against the club that cut him in March.
“We just didn’t have room for him,” explained Orioles manager Buck Showalter. “We knew somebody was going to take him.”
The A’s were that team, claiming the 27-year-old off waivers on March 10. The way the afternoon started, it looked like Triggs was going to make his former employer pay.
The right-hander worked his way through three scoreless inning before his old club got to him in the fourth. After punching out Hyun Soo Kim to begin the inning, Triggs served up four consecutive hits as the O’s jumped out to a 3-0 advantage.
“I thought he pitched really well in the early innings,” manager Bob Melvin said. “He gave up a couple of hits later and gave up some runs, but all in all, for a guy that’s a reliever to come in and start like that, I thought he pitched well.”
After matching his season-high in innings pitched, Triggs insisted that fatigue wasn’t a factor in his final inning.
“No, not really,” Triggs said when asked if he had tired. “[My] pitch quality — at least I feel like — was fairly consistent [innings] one through four.”
In the top of the fifth, the Orioles pushed their advantage to 7-0 thanks to a two-out grand slam off the bat of Mark Trumbo. The blast — Trumbo’s 32nd of the season — came after Daniel Coulombe had issued an intentional free pass to Manny Machado and then walked Chris Davis.
Half an inning later, the A’s finally got on the board courtesy of a two-run shot over the left field wall by Ryon Healy. Billy Butler had began the fifth by collecting a leadoff single, as the designated hitter went 2-for-4 with a RBI. After logging a .200 average in his first 29 games, Butler is hitting .330 in his last 45 contests.
Healy’s homer was the only time the A’s would score against starter Chris Tillman in his seven innings of work, but the club rallied for four in the eighth.
Max Muncy led off the inning with a solo home run before Yonder Alonso lined a two-run double to center field and Butler grounded a RBI single to left.
“We don’t stop. We don’t quit,” Vogt said. “We keep fighting.”