SAN FRANCISCO -- Through eight innings, the A's bats looked lifeless.
Oakland had mustered just two baserunners all night, one of them on a routine popup that miraculously dropped in for a single. They trailed 3-1 and now had to face one of the best closers in baseball.
But as they always seem to do, the A's rallied.
Dustin Garneau led off the ninth inning against Will Smith with a single to right. Khris Davis came up next as a pinch-hitter and battled back from an 0-2 count to work the count full, ultimately lining a single to center.
After a Marcus Semien strikeout, Matt Chapman launched a deep fly ball down the left-field line, only to watch it drop six inches foul. It likely would've tied the game. The very next pitch, Chapman ripped a single to right to load the bases.
Following a Matt Olson strikeout, Mark Canha was able to grind out a seven-pitch walk to force in a run and cut the lead to 3-2. Smith, who has only blown three saves all year, was on the ropes.
Chad Pinder took a tough strike one call that looked inside to even the count at 1-1. After a foul ball and a fastball inside, the count was again even at 2-2. Smith hurled a fifth straight fastball, his 37th pitch of the inning, and Pinder swung through it to seal a 3-2 Giants victory.
"There's no quit in this team," said outfielder Stephen Piscotty, whose 12th home run of the season accounted for the A's first run. "You don't always pull it all the way out, but just the effort -- you can tell the heart, that guys are battling and putting everything they've got left on the line. It stings a little bit when it doesn't happen, but you've got to feel good about making the effort."
Tuesday's starting pitcher Brett Anderson echoed that sentiment, appreciating his team's fight despite taking the loss.
"Will Smith is a tremendous closer, but we've done it before," Anderson said. "For KD to come in to pinch-hit and have a quality at-bat and get a single there, it was a positive sign. (We) never think we're out of it.
Oakland manager Bob Melvin added: "I think we just always expect to win. If we're in a position to have a chance to win late in games, we do it a lot at home with the walk-offs and same thing on the road. Until they get the last out, we feel like we have a good shot. This is a pretty good closer that we put some really good at-bats (against). Unfortunately, we just came up one at-bat short."
The A's will have to hope that some of their ninth-inning momentum carries over to Wednesday afternoon when they take aim at a series split. The good news is they won't have to see Madison Bumgarner, who pitched seven dominant innings en route to his eighth win of the season.
Instead, it will be right-handers Homer Bailey and Tyler Beede facing off, with first pitch set for 12:45 p.m.