OAKLAND — Ramon Laureano nearly got all the way around to home before the throw came in.
With the A’s and White Sox tied 2-2 in the bottom of the ninth, the Oakland center fielder had sent a 97-mph grounder to short, setting up a momentum-killing double play after pinch hitter Chad Pinder reached on a leadoff single. After backhanding the shot, Chicago shortstop José Rondón fired the turn past second baseman Yolmer Sanchez and into the visitor’s bullpen and the Oakland Coliseum’s vast foul territory.
Pinder scored the winning run, but Laureano kept running anyway. By the time Ryan Cordell’s throw came in from right, Laureano was being mobbed at the plate. After a sparkling effort from Brett Anderson, and after seeing Matt Chapman’s would-be winning run stymied by replay an inning earlier, the A’s won 3-2 on a walk-off error, capping their first sweep in nearly a month, and making them winners of 10 of their last 12.
“The game ended up the way it should have been,” said Laureano, who also homered and stole a base.
Tied 2-2 in the eighth with no outs, men at the corners and closer Liam Hendriks warming up, Oakland’s Khris Davis lofted a high fly into foul ground near the White Sox bullpen in right for a would-be sacrifice fly. Chapman, aboard on a leadoff single, tagged up at third and was called out on the throw home by Cordell, but looked to get his right hand to the plate before catcher James McCann tagged him on the leg.
Replay appeared to show just that, but as the crowd chanted “Safe! Safe! Safe!” crew chief Larry Vanover relayed the judgement from New York: The call stood. Manager Bob Melvin fired out of the dugout to protest, to no avail. Mark Canha struck out looking to end the inning.
The call was all the more frustrating at the time given Anderson’s 6 2/3 masterful innings, despite a bruised foot.
The White Sox got ahead first when a Rondón single brought Jon Jay in to score on a wide throw home from left fielder Robbie Grossman. Anderson, in backing up the throw, inadvertently kicked the weighted donut on Yolmer Sanchez’s bat on the ground.
”It’s one of those things that only happen to me,” said Anderson, who in the past has strained his neck avoiding a broken bat, strained his Achilles fielding a ground ball and strained an oblique by lunging forward in his followthrough. “As long as we win, I can fall, get knocked over and do all sorts of weird stuff, but if I give us a chance to win and we come out on top, I’ll look like a fool out there sometimes.”
Back out in the third, Anderson danced around a leadoff bunt single by getting Jose Abreu to ground into an inning-ending double play. In the fifth, after allowing a one-out single to Sanchez, he got Cordell to fly out, and with Leury Garcia at the plate, sniffed out a Sanchez steal attempt to picked him off and end the inning.
A Franklin Barreto error put two men in scoring position with no outs in the sixth, but Anderson struck out Abreu — owner of 21 homers — and got the All-Star McCann to ground to third. Chapman made a play that’s become routine for the Platinum Glover: stepping on the bag and firing to first in one motion for the inning-ending double play. Chapman had already made jaws drop in the fourth, ending the inning by dropping a barehand try, picking it up off one bounce and throwing to first to cut down Jay.
The A’s tied things up in the third when Barreto, who lined a knee-high curve into center for a one-out single, advanced to third on a Yoan Moncada error and scored on a grounder to short by Chapman.
After a seventh-inning solo homer by Eloy Jimenez gave Chicago a 2-1 lead, Laureano evened things up by leading off the bottom of the frame with an opposite-field solo shot. Laureano’s 18th home run of the season — third on the team — made up for losing a fly ball in the sun for a pop fly double by Sanchez in the top of the inning, a double that ended Anderson’s afternoon.
Generously listed at 5-foot-11, Laureano has added 10 pounds of muscle to his frame since his rookie year, and is now on pace for 31 home runs this season after the 398-footer Sunday.
“At some point in time, we thought he had a chance to be a 30-home run guy,” Melvin said. “Maybe on pace a little sooner than maybe we expected.”
Laureano’s game winner was a good deal shorter than his blast, but ensured Oakland’s first sweep since June 17-19 against Orioles, and kept the A’s (53-41) in the second Wild Card after a win by Cleveland.
“We’re playing with a lot of confidence,” Melvin said. “It’s good to grind one out at the end here … It may be unorthodox, but we’ll take it.”