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A's edge Angels on Donaldson's walk-off single

The SportsXchange

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Walk-off hits are becoming a habit for Oakland A's third baseman Josh Donaldson during what has become a career year.

Donaldson hit a walk-off single with the bases loaded and two outs in the ninth inning Tuesday, lifting the Oakland A's to a 2-1 win over the Los Angeles Angels.

The walk-off hit was Donaldson's third of his career, all coming this season.

The Athletics' magic number to win the American League West dropped to six, and their magic number for a playoff berth fell to five. Oakland remains 6 1/2 games ahead of the second-place Texas Rangers, who beat the Tampa Bay Rays.

"We're getting close to our goal," Donaldson said after taking two pies to the face and getting a Gatorade shower in a post-win celebration.

A's closer Grant Balfour (1-3) got the win, striking out all three Angels he faced in the ninth and setting the stage for Donaldson's heroics, just one night the A's suffered a 12-1 loss to the Angels.

"We're trying to finish this thing off here," Balfour said. "We're trying to battle in close games like that. Last night was disappointing, so to come out and win today in a tough game, which is what you expect the playoffs are going to be like, it was nice to get a game like that and come out on top. It builds confidence. It's a good win."

In the bottom of the ninth, former Angels infielder Alberto Callaspo grounded a leadoff single off right-hander Michael Kohn, then gave way to pinch runner Jemile Weeks.

Stephen Vogt flied out to deep left, and Weeks tagged up and took second, beating Josh Hamilton's throw. Kohn (1-3) intentionally walked pinch hitter Jed Lowrie, bringing Coco Crisp to the plate. Crisp fell behind 0-2, hit a foul ball to deep right, then worked a walk in a nine-pitch plate appearance, loading the bases.

With Daric Barton at the plate, the Angels had five infielders and just two outfielders, both playing shallow. But Kohn struck out Barton, and the Angels went back to a standard alignment with Donaldson hitting.

Donaldson fell behind 0-2 before lining the next pitch for a single to right-center, driving in Weeks with the winning run.

"He threw me a fastball," Donaldson said. "It was a little over the plate. He has a really good fastball, it's 95 (mph), 96, but it's even harder than that, it seems like, because it takes off at the end. He's a very good pitcher, and I was just fortunate enough that he left one over the plate and I was able to hit it on the barrel."

Kohn gave Donaldson credit but also blamed himself for a bad 0-2 pitch.

"Anytime you get a hitter 0-2, it's a time to put them away," Kohn said. "I didn't do my job and elevate it high enough. That's why he's an All-Star."

Actually, Donaldson was snubbed for the AL All-Star team, but he's putting up All-Star-worthy numbers. He went 3-for-5 Tuesday, reaching base safely for the 22nd straight game and raising his average to .304 with 23 home runs and 89 RBIs.

"No disrespect to anyone, but he's the guy that's probably been the guy all year for us," Balfour said. "No better guy than to have him up at the plate. He did a great job and didn't try to do too much 0-2. He shot it the other way, and we came away with the win. It's all good."

Angels right-hander Garrett Richards allowed just one run -- in the first inning -- on seven hits over seven innings. He struck out six and walked two. Richards got a no-decision, but his career-best, three-game winning streak survived.

"He pitched a heck of a game for us," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "He's maturing. The confidence keeps growing as you have success."

One night after giving up a season-high run total and a season-high-tying 15 hits, Oakland's pitchers got back on track.

A's rookie right-hander Sonny Gray allowed just one run -- Mike Trout's solo homer in the first -- on five hits over six innings and got a no-decision. Gray struck out five and walked one.

"Tonight was a team win," Gray said. "Everyone really played their part. The bullpen came in and shut them out for three innings. Weeks' tag there was a real big play at the time, and then Donaldson comes up there with the big hit. That's what we expect from him, and that's what he did. That was awesome."

NOTES: During the game, the toilet in the A's dugout backed up and overflowed, requiring the maintenance staff to fix the problem and clean up the mess. ... LF Brandon Moss had an RBI double for the A's in the first. ... Angels 3B Chris Nelson (strained right hamstring) was reinstated from the 15-day disabled list. ... A's RHP Dan Otero returned to the team after missing Monday night's game to be with his wife and their daughter, who was born early Monday morning. ... A's LHP Brett Anderson, who has been a starter throughout most of his career, likely will remain in the bullpen for the rest of this season, manager Bob Melvin said. ... An MRI revealed that A's OF Yoenis Cespedes has tendinitis in his right shoulder. "Which is a good outcome. No tear," Melvin said. Cespedes started at DH for the second straight game, and he went 0-for-4. ... Lowrie (strained right hamstring) was out of the starting lineup for the second straight game.
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