SAN FRANCISCO — The A’s won a game that their offense simply refused to lose Tuesday night.
With both teams’ bullpens basically unable to hold any kind of lead, the A’s outlasted the Giants 13-11 in a game that tied the highest-scoring game in Bay Bridge Series history.
The A’s overcame two separate three-run deficits and their own bullpen implosion in the sixth inning. In the end, Ryan Madson gutted his way through 43 pitches to cover the final two innings and ensure Oakland captured the first two games of this four-game set against their cross-bay rivals.
The teams combined for 30 hits and burned through 12 relievers in the 3-hour, 53-minute marathon.
Jake Smolinski, summoned off the bench in the eighth, delivered a pinch-hit three-run homer to put the A’s ahead for good, 9-8. But the A’s hitters didn't stop there, and that was probably the wise course of action on this night. They scored eight runs total over the final two innings.
That continued a stretch that has seen the A’s score 46 runs over their past six games (7.67 per game).
The A’s trailed 4-1, then went ahead 5-4, before relievers John Axford and Marc Rzepczynski gave up four runs in the bottom of the sixth. Brandon Crawford’s three-run triple gave the Giants an 8-5 lead.
Starting pitching report: Riding some momentum from back-to-back strong starts entering the night, Kendall Graveman didn’t fool Giants hitters in this one. They knocked him around for nine hits and four runs over five innings. Crawford’s two-run double put San Francisco ahead in the third. But Graveman was hurt by a failure to get a shutdown inning in the fourth, a problem that has bit him often this season. After Khris Davis’ homer pulled the A’s to within a run at 2-1 in the top of the fourth, Graveman gave two runs back in the bottom half. In fairness, Angel Pagan’s two-run single was a routine ground ball that found a hole. But it was preceded by two singles and a walk.
Bullpen report: Madson hadn’t completed a two-inning outing since Sept. 29, 2009, and the fact that manager Bob Melvin asked so much of the 35-year-old points to a physical issue of some sort hindering Sean Doolittle, who hasn’t pitched since Saturday.
When all was said and done, Madson had thrown 43 pitches. He also recorded his first at-bat since 2010, striking out in the top of the ninth.
Axford is going through his roughest patch of the season by far. Over the last seven games, he’s allowed nine earned runs and 12 hits in just 3 1/3 innings for an ERA of 24.32 in that span.
At the plate: The A’s erased two separate three-run deficits in this one, and two of their biggest hits came in the pinch. Billy Butler singled home two runs to put Oakland ahead 5-4 in the sixth. In the eighth, Smolinski worked the count to 2-2 off lefty Javier Lopez and then smoked a three-run homer into the left-field seats, his first career pinch homer. Entering the night, the A’s had been hitless in their previous nine pinch-hit at-bats.
Another huge moment was delivered by Stephen Vogt, who was dropped from third to sixth in the order with Josh Reddick’s return from the disabled list Tuesday. It was Vogt’s two-run double off George Kontos in the sixth that pulled the A’s to within 4-3 and snapped Oakland’s offense to life.
Davis’ homer was his 19th of the season. The A’s finished with 12 hits, continuing their team-wide hot streak that’s seen them score at least six runs in each of the last five games.
In the field: In a game where offense dominated, Giants center fielder Denard Span delivered the defensive highlight of the night, making a lunging catch in right-center to rob Yonder Alonso in the eighth.
Attendance: The announced turnout was 41,740.