OAKLAND — One loud swing of the bat quieted Tuesday’s intimate gathering at the Coliseum.
The Angels’ Danny Espinosa smacked a three-run home run in the top of the ninth inning to spoil a spirited A’s comeback and give Los Angeles a 7-6 win.
Until Espinosa sent an 0-2 offering from reliever Ryan Dull soaring into the night, the vibes from the 11,225 in Oakland were all positive after the A’s rallied with four runs in the seventh inning — three coming on a “Little League home run” by Rajai Davis.
But Dull couldn’t follow up Ryan Madson’s scoreless eighth inning with a strong outing of his own as he failed in his attempt to lock down his fifth career save. A’s manager Bob Melvin said Santiago Casilla, who earned the save in Monday’s opener, was unavailable after his workload the day before that included a bullpen session, but that he liked the matchups for Dull.
“It just didn’t work out,” Melvin said. “He threw one bad pitch.”
Dull agreed with the assessment, saying he thought his slider missed by about an inch.
“It was down, but I’ve got to get it a little lower,” Dull said.
The A’s trailed 4-2 entering the seventh inning, with both of their runs coming on solo home runs. Ryon Healy crushed one in the first inning and Jed Lowrie added one in the second.
Lowrie, who had three hits on the night, opened the seventh with a single and eventually scored on a Yonder Alonso single to make it 4-3. Marcus Semien followed with a double and the A’s were in business with the go-ahead run in scoring position.
Davis worked the count to 2-2. With the corners drawn in, he hit a liner that deflected off the glove of Angels first baseman Jefry Marte. Two runs were easily in and the A’s had the lead.
But that wasn’t enough. As the ball squirted into foul territory beyond first base, Davis was on the move. He turned the corner at second and raced his way to third. Espinosa, the Angels’ second baseman, finally tracked the ball down and threw toward third, but the ball got away. Davis headed home with an incredible two-run triple and a run scored and the A’s suddenly had a 6-4 lead.
“It just felt like Little League again,” Davis joked. “After it hit off his glove, I’m thinking two. Once I got there kind of quick, I just thought about ‘There’s only one out, so let’s take a chance’.”
But the Angels wouldn’t go away. Marte reached on an infield single to open the ninth and Cameron Maybin singled to left. After Dull got a fielders’ choice grounder, he left an 0-2 slider over the plate and Espinosa made him pay.
The A’s got an up and down outing from starter Sean Manaea. He retired the side in order in four of his sixth innings. But he allowed a walk and four singles in a three-run second inning and gave up an RBI triple to Mike Trout in the fifth. His final line showed four runs and five hits, while walking two and hitting a batter.
The A’s, who until the seventh inning had scored five of their six runs this season on solo home runs, saw their ability to manufacture offense early on was inhibited by Angels catcher Martin Maldonado. Semien, after a couple of close calls on pick off throws from Angels pitcher Matt Shoemaker, was gunned down by Maldonado after dancing too far off first base to end the third inning.
Rajai Davis then singled to open the third inning as he reached base for the first time this season. But when he tried to move up into scoring position, Maldonado quickly released a strike to second base to throw him out.
— A’s ace pitcher Sonny Gray threw his whole repertoire during a 25-pitch bullpen session on Tuesday, his first time on the mound since he was shut down nearly a month ago with a lat injury.
“He felt great,” Melvin said. “(He threw) 100 percent for what you can do throwing in the bullpen. There’s a little more intensity throwing to hitters and then in games, so there’s an incremental portion to that. But if anybody can go as close to 100 percent in the bullpen, it’s him.”
Melvin didn’t want to commit to anything, but reasoned that Gray would need two or three bullpen sessions before he could graduate to facing hitters.
— Fellow starter Chris Bassitt is scheduled to face hitters on Wednesday, the first time he’ll do so since undergoing Tommy John surgery last May. That step typically precedes beginning a rehab assignment.