OAKLAND -- The A's and Giants took their Bay Bridge rivalry to new lengths Saturday.
In time, that is.
The two clubs engaged in a wild battle lasting four hours and 15 minutes -- tying for the second-longest game in Oakland history -- that featured 12 pitchers who combined for 385 pitches. Yet it was luck that capped the final score, a 9-8 A's loss.
At least that's the way both managers viewed it, after Brandon Hicks' hit with two outs and the bases loaded in a four-run ninth found its way over the left-field wall for a ground-rule double, preventing Brandon Moss from scoring the tying run. Giants reliever Clay Hensley locked up the save two batters later.
"If Hicks' ball stays in the park, we tie the game," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "We got a little unlucky there. I was hoping it got away from [left fielder Melky Cabrera]. I knew it wasn't going out of the ballpark because he got it right off the end of the bat. I was just hoping it stayed in the park and didn't bounce over so we could get that third run and tie the game."
"We got a break on that," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "It would have been close whether he would have scored or not. Chances are that he would have. We probably got a break on that ground-rule double, and you take it. It probably saved us there."
Not before more drama ensued, though. Hicks, making his A's debut Saturday after getting called up from Triple-A Sacramento, soon enough had another partner on the bases alongside Moss, as Seth Smith garnered an eight-pitch walk against Javier Lopez to keep the anticipation going. But Jemile Weeks, facing Hensley, couldn't get the job done, launching a shallow fly ball to left-center to end the game.
"You're hoping to get a guy on base there and keep the line moving in that inning," Smith said. "That's what we were able to do to get back in it. We just fell a bit short."
"I thought we were going to win," Melvin said. "Smith's at-bat was a great at-bat and I really thought, at that point, we would win that game. When you're down, you have to keep grinding, and we did. It's too bad we didn't win."
The disappointing loss, which sealed the series win for the Giants, came on the heels of a heartbreaker Friday night, when the A's let go of a 3-1 lead in the ninth inning.
Moreover, in dropping its second straight in front of a sold-out home crowd, Oakland made unwanted history in a four-run sixth when Moss tied the Major League record for most errors in an inning by a first baseman with three, becoming the seventh player to do so.
Those misdoings followed a costly fielding miscue by Jonny Gomes in the second that led to two unearned runs, wiping away a 2-0 advantage gained by Oakland in the first inning courtesy of Josh Reddick's team-leading 17th homer of the season, a two-run shot off lefty Madison Bumgarner.
The A's quickly regained the lead in the bottom half of the inning, when Reddick tallied his third RBI of the day with a run-scoring base hit and Gomes atoned for his error in the third with a solo shot that put Oakland ahead by two. But the day's biggest -- and most daunting -- series of events had yet to take place.
By the time the seventh inning came to an end, the Giants had plated another seven runs, with four coming in a badly played sixth by the A's.
With Oakland starter Tyson Ross pitching to Pablo Sandoval with runners on first and second, the righty induced a sharp grounder that bounced off the glove of Moss for the first of two errors on the play. Moss again bobbled the ball when retrieving it near the visiting bullpen mound.
Both runners scored, with Sandoval ending up at second. Not even a pitching change -- lefty Jerry Blevins replaced Ross -- could turn the A's fortunes around. Blevins' first pitch to Brandon Belt was sent to right field for a two-run homer.
The circus act continued seconds later, as Moss committed his third error of the frame when he couldn't handle Blevins' throw to first on Nate Schierholtz's ground ball. Blevins secured the final two outs without further damage.
"He had a tough day over there," Melvin said. "You typically don't make four errors and win a game, but we continued to battle, and you got to give him a little bit of a pass. He's working pretty hard at this. This is new to him. He just had a tough game."
Already leading by two, the Giants got a welcome dose of insurance in the next inning, as another first pitch by an A's reliever -- this time Brian Fuentes, facing Buster Posey -- was sent out of the park for a two-run home run. Bases empty, Fuentes loaded them again for replacement Jordan Norberto, who walked in San Francisco's final run of the evening.
"To win a game like that, it's going to take more than one guy," Melvin said. "We had some contributions from a lot of guys. You play nine innings, and they go back and forth, and this was a hard-fought game, and certainly you'd like to carry the momentum of being ahead, but when the other team comes back, you need to come back on them."