Oakland, CA – No better way than to tie the series than with a rally in the ninth inning. The A’s did just that when they headed into the bottom of the ninth down by two runs. Closer Rafael Soriano gave up his first run all year and had his career-high scoreless innings streak snapped at 25.0 innings in the ninth.
Oakland rallied a pair of runs in the ninth to tie the game and then scored the walk-off winning run for the 4-3 victory over the Nationals. Jed Lowrie doubled on a line drive to center field scoring in John Jaso making it a 3-2 game. Josh Donaldson followed with a RBI single to tie the game brining the sellout crowd to their feet.
“Bad day,” Soriano said. “That’s all I can say. Very bad, bad day, and I can’t be perfect every time, and it happened tonight.”
“Going into the ninth with a two-run lead and a guy that hasn’t given up a run and it doesn’t happen for you, it’s disappointing,” Washington manager Matt Williams said.
Sean Doolittle struck out the first batter in the tenth and forced the next two batters to ground out to end the inning. Williams replaced Soriano with Drew Storen who gave up a single to Alberto Callaspo to lead off the frame. Jaso hit the winning run when he doubled off the right field wall scoring in Nick Punto who pinched-run for Callaspo.
“The last few years, this has been a walk-off kind of team,”said Jaso. “I opened my stance, because I knew the last guy I faced would be throwing harder. I didn’t want to cut myself off. I wanted to hit the fastball.”
“When you get down to those situations, it just becomes a grind,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “You know you have to give your best at-bat. Adrenaline takes over, and it’s all about competing.”
The Nationals opened up the third by scoring three runs in the inning with one out. Sonny Gray who had not allowed a single hit until Danny Espinosa took him deep to right field for the 1-0 lead. Kevin Frandsen knocked in two runs on a line drive to center field and Gray lost his command.
He yielded four hits before Anthony Rendon lined out to right-fielder Josh Reddick. Gray then threw a wild pitch while Jayson Werth was at-bat, advancing Frandsen to third. Pitching coach Curt Young trotted out to talk with Gray who calmed down and force Wilson Ramos to ground out to him for the final out to end the inning.
“Me and [Ramos] were on the same page,” said Roark. “So when you get that rhythm and that tempo going and you don’t have to shake anything off, that’s perfect.”
Oakland responded with a solo home run from Jaso making it a 3-1 game bottom of the third. Tanner Roark made his first career start tossing more than 7.0 innings with one or fewer runs allowed in two of his last three starts. The A’s had two hits off Roark through 7 2/3 innings.
He retired 13 straight after Jaso’s home run, surrendering two hits, walking none, and striking out five. The Nationals are now 0-2 on their six-game road trip against the A’s and Arizona Diamondbacks. And to make matters worse the team got news that first baseman Adam LaRoche will be placed on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right quad.
“It looked like we were pretty much a dead team: three up, three down,” Jaso said. “It’s strange how a starting pitcher can get on a roll and every single ball is getting caught because we did hit the ball pretty well. He [Roark] just threw strikes and let the defense work.”