A’s stave off sweep by Yankees

Jim McIsaac/Getty ImagesBrought his bat: A’s second baseman Cliff Pennington came up huge for the A’s on Sunday with three hits

The ball soared off Alex Rodriguez’s bat in the bottom of the ninth, flying deeper and deeper to right field, threatening to tie the game for the New York Yankees.

As the A’s tracked the ball’s flight, the memories of the past two games could easily have flown through their heads.

Two nights before, Russell Martin sent the Yankees home with a game-winning homer in the bottom of the 10th inning.

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Then, on Saturday, the Yankees had answered Oakland’s four-run 13th inning with one of their own, before winning an epic battle the next inning.

Now, Oakland right fielder Josh Reddick backed up all the way to the wall in pursuit of Rodriguez’s one-out bid for a game-tying homer on Sunday. Then he made a small leap and hushed the Yankee Stadium crowd by making the catch, and the A’s hung on for a 5-4 win.

Oakland had finally escaped to salvage the finale of a tense series between two playoff contenders. Thanks largely to Cliff Pennington’s three hits, including a homer and eventual game-winning RBI single, and partially due to Yankees shortstop Eduardo Nunez’s shaky defense, Oakland snapped the Yankees’ seven-game winning streak.

“The way things went for us in this series, you never know,” said A’s closer Grant Balfour, who pitched a perfect ninth despite the scare for his 20th save of the season. “… I was just hoping Red was going to be under it and he was, and it worked out fine.”

The win kept the A’s 2½ games up on the Los Angeles Angels and 3½ up on the Tamapa Bay Rays in the wild-card race. It also left them 3½ behind the Rangers in the AL West, as all of those teams also won Sunday.

“A couple of dramatic games certainly make the next game seem like it’s a little more important,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “… But rarely do you lose games like you did last night … It was a big game. Each and every game will be big, but probably at this point in the year, that was our biggest one.”

Pennington helped the A’s push their early lead to 3-0 with a two-run homer in the second and plated the go-ahead run in the sixth with an RBI single.

NOTES: The A’s called up former Giants right-hander Jeremy Accardo to provide some bullpen depth a day after using nine pitchers in their 14-inning loss. … A day after Yankees infielder Eric Chavez told the New York Post he thought Oakland’s celebration during their four-run 13th inning was “high-schoolish,” Melvin defended his team. “We play the game the right way on the field. If you try to keep things loose in your dugout, there’s nothing wrong with that.”

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