Athletics

Kottaras plays hero for A's in extra-inning win

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Kottaras plays hero for A's in extra-inning win

BOX SCORE

ARLINGTON -- It's not how you start, it's how you finish.

Those are words the 2012 Oakland A's can live by on an individual player level and a team-wide level. On Tuesday night in Texas, the A's fell behind early but finished with a big home run and save in the 10th inning to defeat the Rangers 3-2.
INSTANT REPLAY: A's 3, Rangers 2 (10)

With the win, their magic number to clinch a spot in the American League Wild Card game is seven, and they are again four games behind the Rangers in the A.L. West. RELATED: MLB standings
The A's final run scored in the 10th inning when George Kottaras clubbed a ball 394 feet into the second deck off Rangers reliever Mark Lowe. Four of his nine home runs this season have given his club the lead. He hit three while with Milwaukee and is up to six with the A's. This one was particularly special for him. "Way up there," Kottaras said of where his 10th inning homer ranks in his career. "To do that, to help the team in that manner, kind of win the ball game was huge for me today."Kottaras' first career home run was off Lowe. Something keen A's manager Bob Melvin wasn't going to let him forget. Especially in a moment this big. "He definitely mentioned it when I was walking up to the on-deck circle and kind of joking about it a little bit," Kottaras said. "It was just one of those things where I'm trying to have a good at bat and hit the ball hard somewhere and kind of off it went so"The A's started the year power starved; now they lead all of Major League Baseball with 99 home runs in the second half. It's not how you start, it's how you finish.The A's bullpen had been overworked in recent days and the biggest concern was finding a way to get the relief corps some rest. Tommy Milone was burdened with the pressure of going deep into the game to save the recently suffering bullpen that has allowed 26 runs in the last eight games. At first that looked like it might be a bit of a problem. Milone allowed the first three batters of the game to reach on singles. The third single belonged to Josh Hamilton, and the ball he hit got by right fielder Brandon Moss, who let it roll all the way to the wall, scoring two runs. Milone responded by stranding Hamilton on third with no outs and ended up retiring the next 11 batters he faced. "I think any good starting pitcher typically, you've got a chance to get him early before he gets into a rhythm," Melvin said. "After that he was fantastic." Milone ended up with 110 pitches through six innings of work. He only allowed three hits after the first inning rally and didn't allow an earned run or a walk. He struck out three batters. "It is easy to lay back and let that affect you but you just have got to keep making pitches and get out of the inning," Milone said. "We have a tremendous amount of respect for our hitters so it's not one of those things where we felt we were in a hole." Moss started with that critical two-run error, and finished with a game-saving catch with the bases loaded in the seventh inning. Elvis Andrus hit a ball deep to right field that looked like trouble, but Moss went into a full sprint and somehow managed to make an over-the-shoulder catch to save three runs. "I didn't realize that it had gone that far; I did feel like I was running forever," Moss said. "But not as far as Yoenis Cespedes had to run after that ground ball I missed.""I was just praying that it wouldn't cost us," Moss added. "It seems every error I make lately two or three runs score and we end up losing by one." The A's were expecting to face one of the Rangers' best pitchers in Yu Darvish. They ended up facing Scott Feldman, who they have scored 12 runs on this season. That's a pretty huge turn of events for a team clinging to life in the division. The A's were able to touch up Feldman for two runs on four hits and knock him out of the game after four innings. The A's may have fell behind early but they battled back quick. Daric Barton, who was in the lineup mostly for defensive purposes, stroked an RBI double on the first pitch he saw to cut the lead in half. In the past Barton has been a patient hitter to a fault."I got a pitch up in the zone early in the count and one of the things I have worked on was just being more aggressive with guys in scoring position and it paid off," Barton said. "It feels good to play, period." "He has good at-bats against lefties, righties, good defender," Melvin said. "That was a nice late addition for us because we are getting a lot of use out of him."Chris Carter tied the game at two in the fourth inning with his 16th home run of the season. That was all Rangers manager Ron Washington wanted to see out of Feldman. He was removed from the game after just four innings with 75 pitches. After allowing 26 runs in their last nine games, the A's relievers were money on Tuesday. They combined for four scoreless innings against a tough Rangers lineup. Sean Doolittle pitched one and one-third innings and Evan Scribner pitched a scoreless ninth inning to get his first career win. Closer Grant Balfour locked down the victory with his 21st save of the season. He pitched a three up, three down 10th inning and has been remarkably consistent since re-taking the closer's role. He hasn't blown a save in 16 chances since August 11. "He's coming in and throwing strikes and mixing his pitches up too," Kottaras said. "He's not just a fastball thrower, he's a pitcher. To be able to do that is huge for us." The A's have lost six of their last nine games. Each win gets them a step closer to the postseason for the first time since 2006. They have eight games left and are two games ahead of the Angels for the second Wild Card spot, and half a game behind the Orioles for the first spot. They control their own destiny at this point."I think the farther you go into the season each and every win has a bit more magnitude to it," Melvin said. "It was a huge win the last day in New York, a huge win the last day in Detroit, this team has responded like this many, many times this year, so it doesn't surprise me." Again, it's not how you start, it's how you finish. NOTES:-- Coco Crisp entered the game as a pinch runner and stole a base. He participated in baseball activities and hit in the cage on Tuesday before the game. It is a sign he might finally be close to a return. -- The A's struck out 15 times on the evening, raising their running franchise record total to 1,322 and bringing them closer to the all-time American League record of 1,324 recorded by the Rays in 2007.
-- Tuesday was the second game in Rangers franchise history where they scored one or more runs but recorded 0 RBI. The last time was 1962, when they were the Washington Senators, also a 3-2 loss.

A's give up four home runs, drop series opener to Orioles

A's give up four home runs, drop series opener to Orioles

BOX SCORE

BALTIMORE -- Adam Jones called it a game the Baltimore Orioles needed to win.

The center fielder set the early tone, and the rest of the team followed his lead.

Jones hit a pair of home runs, Jonathan Schoop added a three-run shot and Baltimore beat the Oakland Athletics 7-3 on Monday night. The Orioles won for the second time in six games, but they are still in the thick of the wild-card race.

"Adam's done that a lot and it never goes unnoticed or unappreciated or assumed, more importantly," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "Jon obviously had a big blow there, but can't tell you how hard it is, as hard as Adam plays as long as he plays, and then mid-to-late August you're still able to do that. That's one of the things that separates Adam."

Wade Miley (7-10) held the A's to two runs, five hits and four walks over six-plus innings to pick up his first win at Camden Yards since June 17. The left-hander is 2-0 with a 1.38 ERA against Oakland this season.

Jones tied a career high with four hits and is one home run shy of reaching 25 for the seventh consecutive season. Zach Britton got the final out with two runners on for his 11th save this season and his 60th in a row.

Baltimore beat Chris Smith (0-3) for the second time in 12 days. Smith allowed five runs and six hits over 4 1/3 innings - his shortest start of the season. He was pulled after allowing Schoop's three-run homer, which made it 5-1. Ryan Dull entered and allowed another homer by Jones.

"I always feel strong at this time of the season," Jones said. "It's called pacing myself. I've learned how to pace myself over the years."

Jed Lowrie homered for the A's, and Boog Powell hit his first career home run in the eighth inning, appropriately enough doing so in Baltimore, where an unrelated Boog Powell slugged 303 home runs and won the 1970 MVP.

"It didn't seem real," said Powell, who made his major league debut earlier this season with Seattle and was acquired in a trade earlier this month for Yonder Alonso.

The younger Powell is expected to meet his namesake for the first time Tuesday, according to MLB.com.

Welington Castillo responded for Baltimore with a solo home run in the eighth off Michael Brady that provided the 7-3 lead.

Oakland took a 1-0 lead in the second on an RBI double by Matt ChapmanChad Pinder was thrown out at the plate trying to score from first on the play.

The Orioles tied it in the bottom half on a sacrifice fly by Mark Trumbo. Jones led off the fourth with a homer and Baltimore never trailed again.

"He's a good hitter for a reason. It's tough," Smith said about Jones. "You try to attack his zones, and it seems like I make a good pitch and he breaks his bat but he finds somehow to put it in the outfield."

MACHADO HONORED:
Manny Machado became the third Oriole to earn AL Player of the Week honors this season, joining Schoop (July 23) and Tim Beckham (Aug. 7). Machado batted .385 (10 for 26) with four home runs and 12 RBIs over six games.

TRAINER'S ROOM:
Athletics: C Bruce Maxwell, who took a foul ball off his face mask Saturday at Houston, did not start for the second consecutive game. He entered as a pinch hitter in the seventh and went 0 for 2. . SS Marcus Semien left in the seventh with a wrist injury.

Orioles: SS J.J. Hardy (wrist) went 0 for 3 with a walk on Monday in his first rehabilitation game with Triple-A Norfolk.

UP NEXT:
Athletics: RHP Paul Blackburn (3-1, 3.46 ERA) received a no-decision after allowing four runs in 5 2/3 innings in his lone appearance against Baltimore on Aug. 11.

Orioles: RHP Ubaldo Jimenez (5-8, 6.47 ERA) struggled in his previous outing against Seattle, when he was charged with six runs and eight hits over 4 1/3 innings. He is 4-1 with a 4.70 ERA in eight career starts against Oakland.

A's Cotton notches first big league victory in two months: 'He found out if...'

A's Cotton notches first big league victory in two months: 'He found out if...'

HOUSTON — No one questions the quality of stuff that Jharel Cotton takes to the mound.

According to A’s manager Bob Melvin, the key for his rookie starter is more an issue of mindset and aggressiveness.

Cotton was in attack mode Sunday after a wobbly first inning against the Houston Astros. The result was an encouraging six-inning outing that set the A’s on the path to a 3-2 victory that helped them avoid a three-game sweep at Minute Maid Park.

While the victory was important for his team’s overall psyche, Melvin also hopes it triggers some confidence for Cotton in how he can attack a dangerous lineup and have success.

“I think he found out if he throws the ball over the plate, it’s gonna allow him to stay in the game longer,” Melvin said. “He should take a lot out of this game, especially against a lineup like that. Knowing that if I’m throwing the ball over the plate, using a mix of pitches and I’m not afraid to use my fastball, that the results can be good. We’ve seen him pitch really good games because he’s got good stuff.”

Cotton (6-10) rang up his first major league victory since June 23 against the White Sox. That was before a blister on his thumb led to a stint on the disabled list. Since then, he’d struggled with walks, ill-timed homers, and generally enough turbulence to invite speculation on whether the A’s might skip him for a start or send him down.

He answered Sunday by holding the majors’ highest-scoring team to two runs on four hits over his six innings. That was after walking two in a 25-pitch first. Not since that scoreless outing against the White Sox back in June had Cotton surrendered less than four runs in a game.

A’s closer Blake Treinen, who recorded a six-out save and combined with fellow reliever Chris Hatcher to bring home the ‘W’ for Cotton, said watching Cotton tame the Astros lineup didn’t surprise him.

“I’d heard of him from before I was even (traded to the A’s), and I’ve seen his stuff. Sometimes as a young pitcher it just takes experience. When things are going really well, you don’t have to think.You just trust it.”

The A’s beat the Astros for just the third time in 15 games this season. On so many occasions, Houston has taken advantage of Oakland mistakes and forced the issue with aggressive baserunning. On Sunday, it was the A’s who dictated things in that fashion.

Center fielder Boog Powell, who went 3-for-4 with a walk from the leadoff spot, led the game off with a single against Brad Peacock (10-2). Then Marcus Semien grounded one toward the hole on the left side. With Powell racing hard into second, Astros shortstop Alex Bregman threw wildly into right field. Powell came around to score, and Semien — advancing all the way to third — came home on the play when Marwin Gonzalez made another throwing error.

Jed Lowrie scored on a passed ball in the sixth to push the A’s lead to 3-1, marking the first time in Oakland history the A’s scored three or more runs in a game without notching a single RBI.

Semien’s mad dash around the bases reminded him of a similar play as a Little Leaguer in El Cerrito, when he circled the bases in the same kind of way on his mother’s birthday. Afterward, she convinced him he’d hit a real homer.

“I got some texts from some old Little League friends about that one today,” Semien said.

It wasn’t conventional, and it didn’t matter. Over the first two games of this series, the A’s had scored one run total and advanced just one runner as far as third base.