Athletics 5, Angels 4, 12 innings
Scutaro drove in Kielty for the winning run with a single in the 12th inning and the Oakland Athletics reduced their magic number to win the AL West to two with a 5-4 victory over the Los Angeles Angels on Friday night.
Kielty, down 0-2 in the count, had a pinch-hit double to start the 12th and went to third on a groundout. Francisco Rodriguez (2-3) intentionally walked Nick Swisher and the Angels brought an outfielder in for a five-infielder alignment to face Scutaro.
“I knew my chances were really good with him up there,” Kielty said.
Scutaro also fell behind 0-2 before lining the ball to deep left-center for his second game-winning hit this year and eighth in three seasons with the A’s. He was immediately got mobbed by his teammates.
“I was looking for a slider on the first two pitches. He didn’t throw me one slider,” Scutaro said. “A guy like Rodriguez, you have to look for one pitch. After two strikes, I was looking for the ball, trying to survive.”
The A’s can clinch their first division title since 2003 by winning either Saturday or Sunday against the Angels, who celebrated their own AL West titles the past two seasons on Oakland’s home field.
Maicer Izturis lined a tying double to left in the ninth that a diving Jay Payton couldn’t control. He relayed to closer Huston Street, who quickly threw toward catcher Jason Kendall but the ball got past him for an error that allowed Erick Aybar to score.
Street, pitching for a fourth straight day, blew his ninth save.
Oakland’s Milton Bradley hit a go-ahead homer in the eighth after Eric Chavez tied the game in the seventh with a solo homer. Barry Zito struck out six and pitched 7 2-3 strong innings in what might have been his final start in Oakland.
Bradley was ejected in the 11th after arguing a called third strike.
He disagreed with plate umpire Ron Kulpa’s call for the second out of the inning and yelled at the umpire. Bradley began to walk away, then turned and tried to go at Kulpa before being held back by manager Ken Macha and third-base coach Ron Washington.
Bradley threw his bat into the padded fencing near the on-deck circle, then tossed his helmet. He kept yelling at Kulpa as he made his way toward the tunnel to the clubhouse.
“It was a 3-2 curveball and he didn’t like it,” Kulpa said. “He said something and I took off my mask and told him, ‘If you want to stay in the game, walk away,’ which he did. Then he called me something he shouldn’t.”
Two playoff-starved veterans, Kendall and Mark Kotsay, contributed key plays in the A’s fourth straight win and eighth in nine. Oakland moved 27 games over .500 (90-63) for the first time since Sept. 5, 2004, when the club was 81-55.
“That was unbelievable,” said Zito, who received yellow roses from a fan.
Swisher added a solo homer for the A’s, who lead the Angels by eight games. The teams play six more times in the final nine games, including the last four of the season in Anaheim.
“Our backs have been against the wall for a while,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “We’ve been playing good baseball. We’re not going to stop now.”
Oakland has missed the playoffs the previous two seasons after four straight postseason berths—all of which ended in the first round.
Howie Kendrick of the Angels hit a tiebreaking homer leading off the seventh, then Chavez—who sat out the previous two games with a strained hamstring—answered with his 21st home run leading off the bottom half to make it 3-3.
Juan Rivera blooped an RBI single in the sixth—his second hit in 19 career at-bats against Zito—to load the bases with one out after Guerrero was intentionally walked. Robb Quinlan popped out, then Garret Anderson hit a tying RBI-single and Guerrero also headed for home. But Payton made a fantastic throw home and Kendall tagged Guerrero inches from the plate after it appeared nobody told the Angels star to slide.
Zito is expected to leave for a large-market team elsewhere as a free agent this winter.
“I can’t really get emotional right now because it would probably take my focus off,” Zito said.
The A’s aren’t ready to get sentimental about Zito’s departure. Still, Macha came across the clubhouse to shake his hand afterward.
“The future’s like, who cares?” Chavez said.
Oakland leads the season series 7-6. There have been six one-run games. … Angels OF Chone Figgins stole his 49th base in the sixth. … Guerrero committed a two-base fielding error in right. His 11 errors are most by an AL outfielder. … It was Bradley’s second ejection this year. The other was Aug. 9 against Texas.