BALTIMORE — The Oakland Athletics’ current road trip, and these first two games at Camden Yards in particular, have served as a perfect representation of the entire season for a team that just can’t seem to win the close ones.
Chris Davis hit two home runs, the second a tiebreaking shot with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning off switch-pitcher Pat Venditte, to give the Baltimore Orioles a 4-3 victory Saturday night.
Davis connected on a 2-2 offering from Venditte (0-1), the first ambidextrous pitcher in the majors since 1995. Venditte was recalled from Triple-A Nashville before the game for his second stint with Oakland this season.
It was the second straight night in which the Orioles beat the A’s with a home run in their final at-bat. Manny Machado hit the game-winner in the 13th inning less than 24 hours earlier.
Oakland blew a four-run lead on Friday night, and in this one the Athletics frittered away a three-run cushion in falling to a major league worst 13-27 in one-run games.
“Disheartening to say the least,” starter Chris Bassitt said. “We’re going to find out what this group is made of going forward. It’s that simple.”
After taking three straight from Houston at home, Oakland started its final trip to the Eastern time zone with three losses in Toronto — including a pair of 4-2 defeats. Now, after dropping two in Baltimore, the A’s are riding a season-worst, six-game road losing streak.
“We came into the trip with some momentum,” manager Bob Melvin said. “Just have to get over it, come back out with the expectation to win [Sunday].”
In the fourth inning, Davis homered with a man on to start Baltimore’s comeback from a 3-0 deficit. The slugger has 34 home runs — six in his last six games — and leads the majors with 88 RBIs.
His second drive ruined Venditte’s 0.00 ERA.
“He’s a great hitter, so right there you can’t give him anything,” the rookie said. “I gave him enough for him to do what he had to do.”
Gerardo Parra also homered for the Orioles, who are pressing the Los Angeles Angels in the race for the final AL wild-card slot.
Zach Britton (3-0) worked a perfect ninth, striking out two to set the stage for Davis’ heroics.
Sam Fuld and Josh Reddick went deep for Oakland, and Bassitt allowed three runs and five hits over eight innings. The right-hander struck out six and walked one.
Miguel Gonzalez gave up three runs, six hits and three walks in seven innings for Baltimore. He yielded two home runs but blanked the A’s over his final four innings.
Three pitches into the game, Oakland led 1-0 after Billy Burns tripled and scored on a groundout.
Fuld led off the third with his second home run to end a career-high tying 0-for-18 skid, and Reddick added a solo shot.
Gonzalez’s up-and-down outing was on full display in the middle innings. He walked the bases loaded with one out in the fifth before Billy Butler bounced into a 5-4-3 double play. In the sixth, the right-hander struck out the side.
In the Baltimore sixth, Parra knotted the score with a drive that barely cleared the scoreboard in right field.
A’s starter Sonny Gray (back spasms) threw 25 pitches in the bullpen “and felt good,” Melvin said. If Gray isn’t stiff or sore on Sunday, he will likely start Monday.
A’s third baseman Danny Valencia was scratched because of back and hamstring tightness. He expects to return Sunday.
Kendall Graveman (6-8, 3.89 ERA) will take the mound for the A’s Sunday seeking to break a career-high, four-game losing streak against Baltimore’s Wei-Yin Chen. Chen is 4-0 with a 2.19 ERA lifetime against Oakland.