OAKLAND -- Getting runners on base was no problem for the A’s on Saturday. In the bottom of the ninth, they finally figured out what to do with them.
Oakland rallied from two runs down and pulled out a 4-3 walkoff victory over the Houston Astros in front of a large and electrified crowd at the Coliseum.
Jed Lowrie got the winning rally started with a solo homer off Chad Qualls to lead off the ninth. Alberto Callaspo would come up with two runners on and one out and knock a game-tying single to center, and Josh Reddick followed by ripping a 1-2 pitch deep to center to bring home the winning run and unleash an A’s celebration out near second base.
That’s 10 wins in the past 12 games for the A’s, whose white-knuckle rally conjured up images of some of the top moments of the last two seasons. Reddick usually delivers the celebratory pies to the face. This time he was on the receiving end of one from Coco Crisp during his postgame interview.
Starting pitching report
Another stellar outing from Scott Kazmir. After leaving his last start with triceps tightness, the lefty lasted eight innings and held the Astros to six hits. He got hurt with a mistake in the third, when No. 9 hitter Jonathan Villar hit an 0-2 pitch for a homer to dead center. After Oakland tied it, the Astros went back up on Matt Dominguez’s RBI single in the fourth, which scored Chris Carter on a close play at the plate. Kazmir’s third run came home on Derek Norris’ throwing error in the fifth, which allowed Villar to score after he stole third. But Kazmir’s lengthy outing was a gift for an A’s bullpen that is still feeling the fatigue from heavy use on the tail end of the last road trip.
Dan Otero delivered a scoreless ninth inning and wound up getting credited with the win.
At the plate
The A’s left 14 men on base, as the early theme of the day was missed opporutnties. It wasn’t like they were lacking for chances. After Craig Gentry’s RBI double tied the game in the third, Gentry stole third and the A’s were in business with no outs. But they couldn’t add to their rally, as Jed Lowrie flied out to shallow center, Josh Donaldson struck out and Derek Norris flied out after a Yoenis Cespedes walk.
They left a runner at third on base in three other innings as well. Gentry, playing center in place of Coco Crisp, was a spark with a single and double in his first two at-bats.
In the field
The Astros stole three bases on the afternoon, exploiting what’s been a weakness for the A’s so far. Jonathan Villar swiped third in the top of the fifth, and when Derek Norris’ throw sailed way right into left field, Villar came home for a 3-1 Houston lead. Opponents are now 13 for 13 against A’s on steal attempts for the season.
The A’s entered the day with 16 errors, tied for most in the American League. No wonder that manager Bob Melvin had the team go through a full infield practice before Friday’s series opener. He said it will be an occasional occurrence throughout the season. Josh Donaldson, who was celebrated with his own bobblehead Saturday, was charged with an error in the first when couldn’t find the handle on Dexter Fowler’s grounder. That didn’t cost the A’s, and Donaldson later ranged left for one of his patented sliding stops, popping up to throw out Carlos Corporan.
Fowler later robbed Donaldson in the seventh, diving to catch his liner that could have gone for extra bases and jumpstarted an Oakland rally.
Donaldson’s bobblehead was a hot item, drawing a crowd of 33,166.
Jesse Chavez (0-0, 1.35) has been excellent through three starts but is still searching for his first victory. He gets another chance in Sunday’s 1:05 p.m. game, matched up against former Athletic Brad Peacock (0-1, 6.00).