Athletics

Inside info helps A's win series finale against Halos

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Inside info helps A's win series finale against Halos

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OAKLAND -- The Angels were lauded with praise for making a big splash at Major League Baseball's non-waiver trade deadline. They dealt for a Cy Young-award winning starting pitcher. The A's drew criticism for standing pat. All Oakland did was acquire a freshly designated for assignment back up catcher named George Kottaras. Kottaras came from the Milwaukee Brewers. It just so happens that so did Angels' acquisition Zack Greinke. As the A's and Angels met in the finale of their three-game series, Kottaras was able to provide his new teammates with in-depth information on the Angels new pitcher. The intelligence could have been the difference as the A's defeated their American League West rivals 9-8 in a slugfest."I talked to hitting coach Chili Davis and he asked me some questions about his tendencies," Kottaras said. "I kind of told him what we have talked about when we were together in Milwaukee." Fittingly, Kottaras struck the first big blow for the A's -- a two-run homer off Greinke to dead center making it a 2-1 game. "Me hitting that homer was what it was," Kottaras said. Kottaras' homer opened the floodgates as the A's batted around in the second inning scoring four runs. The A's approach at the plate was working. Greinke walked a season-high five A's batters all of which came in the second inning. He had trouble locating his fastball all day.The run support came in handy for Oakland as rookie starting pitcher Dan Straily hit a few speed bumps against a potent Angels lineup. Straily allowed four home runs -- two of which were hit by Kendrys Morales. Morales' two-run blast in the fifth inning knocked Straily out of the game and gave the Angels a 5-4 lead. "I had more confidence today, I felt like I had better stuff, I just made too many mistakes and paid for them," Straily said. "Luckily our offense decided to put up nine runs and get a team win right there." The four home runs Straily surrendered are the most allowed by an Oakland starting pitcher since Gio Gonzalez did it against the Twins on July 20, 2009. The rookie pitcher may have been tagged for five runs but he also showed some flashes of the brilliance on the mound. He started the game by striking out Mike Trout, Torii Hunter, and Albert Pujols -- all swinging. He ended up striking out five hitters. "Like pitching coach Curt Young told me, I started two games and we got two wins on those days," Straily said. "One was a lot better than the other, but at the end of the day we still got two W's there."The A's offense picked up Straily and the pitching staff in a major way. Sunday's game marked the second time in Oakland history that the team has won a game after allowing five or more home runs. "It was a bit of a heavyweight fight there at the end," Melvin said. After Greinke left the game, the A's rallied for five runs in the sixth inning off Angels reliever LaTroy Hawkins. Coco Crisp hit a single to tie the game at five. Then Yoenis Cespedes gave the A's the lead with a two-run opposite field single to right. "He's got a little bit of a flair for the dramatic," Melvin said. "He is not overwhelmed or intimidated by any situation, and I think that the hit he had today certainly shows that.""For me that's the most important thing in the game," Cespedes said through spanish-language broadcaster Manolo Hernndez-Douen. "To have a chance to hit with runners in scoring position." Carter essentially sealed the deal in the next at-bat. He blasted his 10th homer of the year -- a two-run blast to left field that gave the A's their ninth run. Carter is the seventh A's player to reach double-digit homers -- he got there in just 29 games. "He's just confident. The ability is there," Melvin said. "At some point in time you have to accept in your career, 'I am a big leaguer.' I think he is finally doing that."A's All-Star closer Ryan Cook made the game interesting in the end. He entered the game having blown his last two save opportunities, and allowed two runs in the ninth inning before recording the final out. Cook has allowed eight runs in his last seven innings pitched. After the game Melvin said that Cook's velocity was there and it looked like his tenacity was back. The A's will have to hope their closer can regain his form. Maybe getting his 12th save after failing to convert his last two attempts will be a boost. The A's get a much needed day off on Thursday. Their series win over the Angels concluded the longest 10-game home stand in Oakland history. They played a record 104 innings over the last 10 games here at the Coliseum. On Friday Brandon McCarthy will return from the disabled list to take on the Chicago White Sox. He has been on the DL twice this year with right shoulder issues. He is 6-0 in his last seven starts with Oakland.

In shadow of controversy, Matt Joyce now drawing attention for right reasons

In shadow of controversy, Matt Joyce now drawing attention for right reasons

OAKLAND — The move from Royals manager Ned Yost came as no surprise to Matt Joyce as he waited in the on-deck circle.

Yost had a lefty on the mound in Mike Minor, who had fallen behind 2-0 to Rajai Davis. The intentional walk was ordered to load the bases to bring up the left-handed hitting Joyce with the A’s trailing by two runs in the eighth inning.

“I kind of saw the cards unfolding,” Joyce said.

He made the Royals pay, drilling a bases-clearing double off the wall in left-center for the go-ahead hit that made the difference in the A’s thrilling 10-8 victory Tuesday night.

In a game where Oakland needed so many big at-bats from so many different hitters, Joyce shined the brightest. He homered to lead off the bottom of the first, then capped his four-RBI night with the clutch three-run hit off Minor.

Earlier this season, it would have been tough envisioning Joyce barreling up a ball off a lefty in such a situation. He was hitting a meager .194 overall in his first 54 games in an A’s uniform. Before Tuesday, just two of his 46 RBI had come off left-handed pitchers.

“He’s been facing some (more) lefties, so he’s got some confidence against them,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “He’s been hitting some balls hard against them and using the whole field and tracking it — seeing it the other way. He put a really good swing on that one” in the eighth.

Joyce grabbed headlines for the wrong reasons on the A’s last road trip, drawing a two-game suspension from the commissioner’s office for directing an anti-gay slur at a fan at Angel Stadium. He gave a heartfelt apology afterward.

That mistake has overshadowed the fact that he’s turning in a very strong August, resembling more of the offensive presence the A’s envisioned when they signed him to a two-year $11 million contract last winter.

Joyce is still batting just .234 overall. But he’s a .314 hitter this month (11-for-35). With 17 homers, he’s on track for the first 20-homer season of his career. At 50 RBI, he’s also within reach of his career high in that category (75) with 42 games to go.

After Tuesday night’s victory — when the A’s allowed five runs in the top of the eighth to relinquish a lead, only to score six in the bottom half to re-claim it — Joyce was most interested in talking about his teammates.

“I'm so proud of these guys,” Joyce said. “Obviously it's tough to give up the runs and give up the lead there late in the game. But to be able to come back and battle and have good at-bats and start a rally and just come away with the win, it speaks a lot to these guys’ ability to keep playing the game, not give up. It's really fun to watch a lot of these young, really talented guys play the game and play it the right way.”

With the A’s dedicating so much playing time to young guys, it would serve Joyce well to finish strong and show he’s an important piece of the outfield puzzle looking ahead to next season.

On Tuesday night, in one of the A’s most unpredictable victories, no one proved more essential.

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways as A's score six in eighth to beat KC

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AP

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways as A's score six in eighth to beat KC

BOX SCORE

OAKLAND — Why win a baseball game conventionally?

That was the A’s M.O. on Tuesday night, when they scored six times in the bottom of the eighth to register a come-from-behind 10-8 victory over the Kansas City Royals.

Actually, the A’s had to fall from ahead before they could come from behind.

The Royals homered three times in the top of the eighth to erase the A’s 4-3 lead and go up 8-4, only to see the A’s storm back with an offensive barrage of their own that included four hits in a row to start the bottom of the eighth.

All told, the teams combined for 11 runs in the eighth inning alone.

Matt Joyce delivered the key hit in the winning rally, clearing the bases with a three-run double that put Oakland up for good, 9-8.

Fitting that these two teams would stage such a back-and-forth affair in the late going. The A’s and Royals entered the night tied for the major league lead with nine wins when trailing after the seventh inning.

BIG GAME AT THE TOP: Joyce led off the bottom of the first with a homer off Royals starter Jason Hammel, his fourth leadoff homer of the season. He finished with four RBI.

SMITH DENIED ‘W’ — AGAIN: For the second time since joining the A’s rotation, Chris Smith left a game in line for a victory only to have his bullpen cough up the lead. The 36-year-old veteran has registered just one victory in his major league career, and that came back in 2008. He has yet to win as a starter. He steadied himself after giving up three runs in the first before he recorded a single out. But Kansas City would get just one more hit off of him before he left the game after 5 1/3 innings.

THREE OF A KIND: The A’s commanded a 4-3 lead on the strength of a homer in each of the first three innings. Joyce’s blast was followed by Matt Olson’s in the second (his fourth homer in five games) and Khris Davis’ two-run shot in the third.

ADVENTURES OF SANTIAGO: Santiago Casilla had found a bit of a comfort zone since being demoted from the closer’s role. He entered Tuesday not having been charged with a run in seven consecutive outings. But he allowed Alex Gordon’s leadoff walk in the top of the eighth, then a two-run homer to No. 9 hitter Drew Butera that put the Royals ahead 5-4.

A’s closer Blake Treinen would enter with one out and give up Eric Hosmer’s two-run homer, then Mike Moustakas’ solo blast two batters later made it 8-4. But after the A’s rallied, Treinen came back to pitch a scoreless ninth to register the victory.

ANOTHER OPTION FOR THE ‘PEN: The A’s acquired right-handed reliever Chris Hatcher from the Dodgers for $500,000 in international bonus money. The 32-year-old has a 4.72 ERA in 193 career appearances, all out of the bullpen. The team made no announcement on whether Hatcher would join the big club or go to the minors.