ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Even after every momentum swing, dramatic hit and terrible relief performance in an 11-inning game, the Oakland Athletics still were unshakably confident somebody would pull them through.
Josh Donaldson and Jim Johnson stepped up and got it done.
Donaldson drove in Jed Lowrie with an 11th-inning double, and the A’s overcame Mike Trout’s tying homer in the ninth for a 10-9 victory over the Los Angeles Angels on Tuesday night.
The AL-leading A’s have won four straight and eight of nine largely because of their strength in tough situations, a product of back-to-back playoff appearances. Even Trout’s dramatic two-run shot off Sean Doolittle didn’t shake Oakland’s belief.
“It seemed like it was only a matter of time before we put a run across and figured out how to get a win,” Doolittle said. “We’ve been playing great this whole road trip, and we scrapped and clawed and came from behind. There’s a sense in this clubhouse that if the game is close or tied, we’re going to figure out a way to get it done. Who’s it going to be this time?”
Lowrie led off the 11th with a single against Yoslan Herrera (0-1), and Donaldson hit a sharp grounder inside third base.
Johnson (2-2) pitched two gritty innings for Oakland, getting Howie Kendrick on a groundout with Trout and Albert Pujols in scoring position to end the A’s 15th win in 21 games at Angel Stadium.
“It was one of the first times all year that our starting pitching struggled,” Donaldson said. “The ninth inning happened, but we were able to come back and get it. Our pitching and defense have been doing really well this year, and tonight it was our offense picking them up.”
Both teams erased late three-run deficits during two dismal bullpen performances. The Angels trailed 9-6 in the eighth after leading 6-3 heading to the seventh.
“It felt like three different games,” Oakland manager Bob Melvin said. “We got behind early and came roaring back again, but give them credit. The momentum shifts go back and forth, and it comes down to will.”
Brandon Moss, Alberto Callaspo and pinch-hitter Derek Norris had RBI singles during a four-run eighth for the A’s. One night after Angels closer Ernesto Frieri blew a one-run lead, newcomer Joe Smith squandered a 6-5 advantage by giving up four runs, three hits and two walks without getting an out.
“I was absolutely terrible out there,” Smith said. “There’s no other way to say it. That’s as bad as I’ve ever performed. We’ve got to get some stuff figured out, as far as the late innings go in the bullpen. I mean, it’s no secret right now. Me and Ernie, we’ve got to win those games – especially against this team.”
The Angels’ third loss in four games came with more bad news: Leadoff hitter Kole Calhoun is headed to the disabled list after turning his right ankle while running out a grounder in the 11th inning.
Smith even blamed himself for Calhoun’s injury.
“When one of your guys goes down in the late innings, where if you just do your job, the game is over and he doesn’t get hurt, and we have one more guy healthy, that’s what hurts the worst,” he said.
David Freese had an RBI single in the eighth for Los Angeles, and Calhoun led off the ninth with a double off Doolittle. Trout, who had three hits and drove in three runs, tied it with a no-doubt shot to left, his fifth homer of the season and the Angels’ major league-best 23rd of the year.
Chris Iannetta had a two-run double for the Angels, who chased Dan Straily in the fourth inning before the bullpen gave it all back.
Straily was the first A’s starter to give up more than three earned runs all season, yielding seven hits and six runs. The right-hander gave up more than three runs for the first time in nine starts since last Aug. 28.
Garrett Richards pitched seven innings of eight-hit ball for the Angels, but Smith’s meltdown denied him his third victory.
NOTES: Pujols went 0 for 5, snapping his 10-game hitting streak. … Iannetta stole his first base since Sept. 4, 2012, on a botched pitchout by Oakland. … Manager Mike Scioscia said hitting coach Don Baylor could be back with the Angels in a limited pregame capacity when they return from a lengthy road trip later this month. Baylor broke his leg on opening day and isn’t likely to be in the dugout during games for several weeks.