A's drop stellar duel to Mets
Blanton, Hernandez throw zeroes; Casilla allows game-winner
NEW YORK -- The way the A's tried to look at the bitter ending to their Saturday was that if Travis Buck hadn't made a big play in the sixth inning, the game would never have come down to another big play made by the rookie outfielder in the bottom of the ninth.
Buck was unable to field a sinking liner hit in front of him by David Wright with no one out and runners on first and second base. The ball bounced over Buck's glove, rolled for a double and Ramon Castro scored from second with the only run of the game in New York's 1-0 win over Oakland before a crowd of 52,920 at Shea Stadium.
Buck, who'd started the game in left field and moved to right in the bottom of the eighth, had made a throw to the plate in the sixth that cut down a Mets runner and kept the score knotted at zero.
"It was awesome. At the time, it was a game-saving play," said A's starter Joe Blanton, who dazzled with eight innings of five-hit, shutout pitching before watching reliever Santiago Casilla give up a run for the first time in 11 appearances this season.
"It was nothing-nothing at that point, and a guy gets a hit and it's still nothing-nothing," Blanton said.
Blanton, who was 7-4 and had won three of his four previous starts, had to give way to a pinch-hitter in the top of the ninth. So Casilla, who was called up from Triple-A on June 2 and who hadn't given up a run in 12 1/3 innings, took the mound.
Castro, who was in the game because the Mets' starting catcher, Paul Lo Duca, had been ejected in the sixth, hit an 0-2 pitch down the left-field line for a double. The A's chose to walk the dangerous Carlos Beltran -- who had two of his team's six hits to that point -- and pitch to Wright, who is a master at hitting to the opposite field.
Wright hit a sinking liner into right. Buck charged and lunged, but the ball skipped over his glove as the slow-footed Castro rumbled home.
"I knew the situation," Buck said. "I should have let it drop. But me being aggressive, sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. It was just one of those times it didn't work. I charged it good. It was just a little bit out of reach, right over my glove, and that was the end of the story there."
Manager Bob Geren, who lauded Buck for the throw in the sixth, didn't fault the outfielder, who was a non-roster invitee to camp this year, on the ninth-inning play.
"When he started to go for it, I thought he was going to catch it," Geren said.
Wright said that he went to the plate with the sole intention of moving Castro to third.
"I did hit it good," Wright said. "I hit it off the end of the bat, but I hit it in the right place. We were lucky [Buck] fell down."
The A's, who haven't scored since Shannon Stewart homered in the second inning of Friday's game, hit seven singles, five of them of the leadoff variety, in the loss. Six were off the tricky Orlando Hernandez, and the last was off winning pitcher Billy Wagner, who pitched the ninth. Two other Mets relievers didn't give up a hit; in all, New York hurlers struck out 10 Athletics.
But Blanton held his own, impressing the Mets with a breaking ball that cut on the inside and outside corners of the plate.
Two of those pitches so enraged Lo Duca that he was ejected by home-plate umpire Marvin Hudson. Castro took over the at-bat and was sent down swinging. Then Beltran lined a hard single into left that Buck charged, scooped up and threw on an arc to a waiting Jason Kendall at the plate.
"That's all I've got," said Buck, who has had wrist and elbow problems this year. "Luckily, it was good enough. My arm, sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. Luckily, I had enough. Jason did a good job of blocking the plate and deking the runner."
Blanton watched with some amusement as the events of the sixth inning transpired. But in the end, the pitcher who fired a complete-game shutout against Minnesota on June 2 was involved in another game in which his team did not score. He was on the wrong end of a 2-0 loss to Seattle, lost 1-0 to Boston and now this.
"It happens," Blanton said.
Kit Stier is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.