OAKLAND -- He's a keeper.
The A's have to think as much of Brandon Inge, who for a second straight game powered Oakland to a comeback victory. This one, a 7-3 win against the Blue Jays, was of the walk-off specialty -- check that, it was a walk-off grand slam.
The home run off Blue Jays closer Francisco Cordero, Inge's seventh-career walk-off long ball, highlighted a five-run ninth that wiped away a 3-2 deficit entering the inning and marked the A's first walk-off grand slam since Mark Ellis notched one in June 2008.
For Inge, it was the second time in as many games he's tallied four RBIs.
"I'm so happy here right now," a beaming Inge said after the game.
And the A's are happy to have him. Since the veteran's arrival on April 30, they're 5-2, with all seven contests coming against the threatening American League East trio of Boston, Tampa and Toronto. Overall, the A's are 16-14 on the season, two games over the .500 mark for the first time since May 17 of last year.
"It's huge," Inge said. "That's the best feeling about it. When you beat the good teams, in close games, that's when you know you can compete against anyone, and that's where the confidence comes from."
"He's come into this clubhouse and meshed really well," starter Jarrod Parker said. "A lot of us look to him for advice, and it's great to have a guy like him around. Tonight was incredible. Just something you can't really put a word on. The way we battled, never quit, it's what good teams do. Just a great team win."
The dramatics began with a guy who was due. Michael Taylor, who struck out swinging three times against Toronto lefty Ricky Romero -- "He more or less dominated me," Taylor said -- led off the ninth with a double, making good on manager Bob Melvin's decision to let him take the at-bat, despite potential pinch-hitter Kila Ka'aihue's nearby presence.
Taylor advanced to third on Jemile Weeks' sacrifice bunt, and he came home on Cliff Pennington's ensuing game-tying single.
"For me, I'm thinking a little differently maybe if it's an RBI situation, but [Taylor] is here for a reason, he's going to play some and we have to see what he's going to do in certain situations," Melvin said. "I felt like we had the right approach off Cordero. To an extent, I think guys knew what to look for. It ended up working out for us."
"You want to do something in that situation to kind of get the team going, and it's my job there to get on base," said Taylor, who saw six consecutive sliders from Cordero. "Obviously you want the opportunity at any moment at any time. I'm glad his faith turned out positively for the both of us."
Cordero chose to intentionally walk Josh Reddick after Pennington stole second base, and following a passed ball, again issued an intentional walk to Jonny Gomes to bring up Inge. The A's third baseman naturally settled on a slider.
"I was trying to get it in the outfield," he said. "That's all I was trying to do at that point. I knew they were trying to get me to hit it on the ground somewhere, and it was my job to get it in the outfield far enough for a sacrifice fly. It was a bonus that it went out."
It meant a third straight blown save for Cordero, who has been on the mound five times for an A's walk-off win, according to team historian David Feldman. The first came in 1999.
"I think I just haven't made good pitches," Cordero said. "With the leadoff guy, I think the only good pitch that I made was that one and it went off the line for a double. It's hard for me to explain what's going on but I have to make better pitches, I have to get people out or I won't have a job at all."
Another struggling reliever, meanwhile, came out the winner. Grant Balfour, who surrendered a go-ahead, two-out RBI single to Kelly Johnson in the top of the ninth, has now offered up seven runs in his last six appearances, after yielding just one over his first 10.
But Inge, ever the gentleman, noted Balfour isn't alone in his struggles. Not on this team.
"It's times like these you can help out your other teammates. Balfour, we've got his back," Inge said. "He might be struggling a bit personally, but we've got his back, and this is the way to tell him and say, 'We'll take care of you.'"
Parker, who left with a no-decision, pitched into the seventh inning for the third time in as many tries. The A's righty walked a season-high five but allowed just four hits and fanned three, the lone damage coming from Johnson's two-run homer in the third. He utilized a career-high 103 pitches in the effort.
Romero, meanwhile, allowed two runs on five hits with five walks and seven strikeouts in six innings. Reddick proved responsible for both runs, with his two-run, game-tying homer in the fifth, his sixth of the season.
"We have a young ballclub, but they can play," Inge said.
"It's important to know that when you're behind, it doesn't mean you're going to lose," Melvin said. "You still have to feel like, as long as you have some outs left, you still have a chance to win."