OAKLAND, Calif. -- When it's a warm day game, balls fly out of the Oakland Coliseum as easily as they would in Coors Field. But it was the Oakland Athletics who got the clutch base hits that made the difference.
Yoenis Cespedes hit the go-ahead two-run single and Chris Carter added a two-run homer in the sixth inning for the A's, who edged the Los Angeles Angels 9-8 on Wednesday afternoon.
"We have a lead, we fall behind, that can be a little demoralizing and to come back again it was a bit of a heavyweight fight in the end," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "The more we go along and the more we win and the more we compete with the teams that are considered the best teams the more confidence we're going to have."
Carter said, "It's good to get wins against the Angels, because they're in the division and we're battling them for the Wild Card spot. This was a big game for us, hopefully we can keep it rolling."
The Angels tied a season high with five home runs. Kendrys Morales hit a pair of homers and drove in three runs. Chris Iannetta, Torii Hunter and Mark Trumbo also went deep but the Halos have lost six of their last eight games.
"I think offensively we did what we could today," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "When you score eight runs you've got to find a way to win a ballgame. We didn't get it done. We've got to get back after it. Try to blend that starting pitching to a certain point and keep our bullpen there."
The problem is, the bullpen hasn't done the job. LaTroy Hawkins (2-3) gave up five runs in the sixth inning and cost the Angels a chance at a .500 road trip.
"At some point things have to stabilize and we have to be able to get those guys coming out of the pen and making pitches and giving our defense a chance," Scioscia said. "LaTroy was behind (the count on) everybody and it was just a tough inning for him. We'll have to bounce back on Friday."
In the top of the ninth, closer Ryan Cook made it interesting. He gave up a leadoff single to Albert Pujols. With one out, Morales singled to right. After a groundout by Alberto Callaspo put both runners in scoring position, Howie Kendrick hit a two run single and the Angels trailed by one run. Kendrick stole second but Erick Aybar grounded to short as the Athletics outlasted the Angels to win the rubber game.
"You go back and look at our nine game losing streak and we never quit on each other even then," Cook said. "Things looked up from there and every good team goes through that. You see who you are and see what you're all about and when you rise above it like that, you know you're doing it for everybody."
In the bottom of the sixth, veteran reliever LaTroy Hawkins failed to hold the lead and coughed up five runs. After a leadoff walk to Cliff Pennington, Coco Crisp hit a one-out double to right. Josh Reddick walked with two outs. After a successful double steal, Cespedes delivered with a two out single to right scoring Crisp and Reddick. Carter hit his 10th home run, a two-run moonshot to left center.
"I feel like when the game is tied or late in the game, we feel like we can win the game and someone's going to come through," Carter said. "I just went up there with the approach of staying up the middle and not getting beat by off-speed pitches and getting a fastball in."
Morales got the home run derby started in the second when he connected on a Straily fastball and sent a rope to the seats in right field. In the bottom of the second, Greinke had trouble locating his pitches. After a leadoff walk to Chris Carter, his former battery mate George Kottaras hit a high fly ball to center field over the leap of Mike Trout.
Brandon Moss and Josh Reddick each had RBI singles. Carter not only started the inning, he ended it as the 10th man to bat in the frame. He grounded out to third but, by then, Oakland had scored four times. The Athletics might have accounted for more runs but Cliff Pennington was picked off second base for the second out of the inning.
The Angels mounted a threat in the third when Chris Iannetta crushed a home run to the bleachers in left center. Trout and Hunter followed with singles putting runners at the corners. But Straily was able to get the middle of the Angels order to fly out, averting any damage.
Greinke got a second wind following that four run frame, and he retired eight of the next 11 batters faced. He got no decision, and pitched five innings, giving up six hits and four runs. He walked five and struck out three.
"It was just ugly," Greinke said. "They were probably just happy I was able to make it through five (innings) with how bad I was pitching. I definitely need to pitch better and they played good defense behind me to keep the damage less than it could have been. It was one of the worst as far as control for my career. That doesn't happen very often at all. It was just a bad game all around."
NOTES: Home plate umpire Bill Miller left the game in the bottom of the sixth inning. He was hit by a Greinke fastball in the bottom of the first during Coco Crisp's at-bat. The ruling on the play was a passed ball as the pitch completely eluded catcher Iannetta and hit Miller on the bottom of his face mask. Miller lost track of the count twice and erroneously called out Brandon Inge in the fifth inning and Ciff Pennington in the sixth inning on strike two. Three umpires officiated the rest of the game. Dan Iassonga moved from second base to home plate, CB Bucknor moved to second base. ... Albert Pujols ended an 0-for-13 slump at the plate. He went 1-for-12 in this series with four strikeouts. ... The two teams combined to hit seven home runs, five by the Angels. ... Grant Balfour gave up his first run in 14 games, ending a scoreless streak at 13 1/3 innings. ... Seven A's players have at least 10 home runs: Carter (10), Cespedes (14), Jonny Gomes (12), Brandon Inge (11 with the A's, 12 total), Brandon Moss (11), Reddick (25), and Seth Smith (11).