Brown sends A's to walk-off win over O's
Outfielder's RBI single in 10th lifts Oakland to victory in opener
OAKLAND -- The home-plate umpire called four strikes while Jack Cust was at the plate. Mild-mannered Mark Ellis barked at the same ump. Perhaps the nicest human being on the planet, Mike Sweeney, animatedly protested two eighth-inning calls at first base.
The first run of the game scored on what should have been a routine groundout to the second baseman. The tying run was something of a half-shirt job, too, scoring on a slow groundout and handing A's closer Huston Street his first blown save since Opening Day on March 25.
Most of Monday was a very strange night at chilly McAfee Coliseum, but in the end, normalcy.
Emil Brown came to the plate in the bottom of the 10th inning with a runner in scoring position and did what he's done all year, smoking a single to center to score Daric Barton and give the A's a 2-1 victory over the visiting Orioles in the opener of a three-game series.
"Yeah ... yeah ... yeah," Barton said as the strangeness was rehashed after the game.
Having gotten the decisive two-out rally started with a single before scoring from second on Brown's third hit of the night and team-high 27th RBI, Barton didn't seem all that interested in the rehash.
"Hey," he blurted, "all I know is we won."
In front of their smallest crowd of the year (10,128 announced), the A's won primarily because they got yet another tremendous performance from their starting pitcher and, Street's streak-ender aside, more great work from the bullpen.
First, lefty Dana Eveland scattered three hits and four walks while pitching into the eighth without allowing a run while relying almost exclusively on his fastball.
His location was a bit off with the heater, so he decided to make up for the lack of command by humping up.
"I just reached back and let it eat. ... I was just throwing it as hard as I could," said Eveland, who was radar-runned at 94 mph several times. "I was getting it by 'em for the most part, so it worked out well."
"Obviously the way their guy pitched tonight, he wasn't giving us much," O's skipper Dave Trembley said. "We probably helped him a little bit by chasing some pitches out of the strike zone."
After Eveland gave up a leadoff single in the eighth with the A's up 1-0, righty Andrew Brown gave up an infield single and a sacrifice bunt, leaving runners at second and third with one out. Enter Alan Embree, who got a shallow fly ball to center and a groundout to escape the jam.
"Our pitching staff is unbelievable," Barton said.
Baltimore's was pretty good Monday, too, particularly starter Garrett Olson, who was charged with a run over 6 1/3 innings of four-hit work. The A's opened the scoring in the seventh when Brown singled with one out and scored taking one base at a time, the first on a walk and the final two on infield singles.
The second was a bases-loaded, two-out infield ball hit by Rajai Davis, and had Baltimore first baseman Kevin Millar let second baseman Brian Roberts handle it, it would have been the end of the inning. Instead, Millar ranged to his right to make the play, and O's reliever Jamie Walker had no shot at beating Davis to the bag.
"It's probably a ball Roberts fields, but it didn't happen," said Trembley.
Said A's manager Bob Geren: "When the first baseman broke to his right, I knew [Davis] was gonna be safe."
The O's tied it up two innings later off Street, who gave up a double to Melvin Mora and walked Aubrey Huff to start the frame. Mora took third on a flyout to center, after which Ramon Hernandez hit a slow bouncer to A's shortstop Bobby Crosby.
Crosby looked to the plate first, cocking his throwing arm, but he decided he had no play on Mora. He had no shot at a double play by then, either, so he fired to first for the second out. Street struck out Adam Jones with the go-ahead run on second to keep the tie intact.
"He made three decisions in a split-second," Geren said. "If you think about it, that play probably won the game. If he goes home and doesn't get him, who knows what happens in that inning. ... That was a very, very smart play."
Kind of strange, though, too -- as was the sight of Ellis jawing with umpire Ed Hickox, who had earlier rescinded one of his four strike-signaling arm pumps with Cust at the plate. Ellis, who went 0-for-5 on the night and is 12-for-72 (.167) at home on the year, had his fill after being rung up on a called third in the sixth.
"When you see Mark argue, it's so rare," Geren said. "He's a real gentleman all the time, on and off the field. It's unusual to see that."
What's not unusual is seeing Brown come through with runners in scoring position. He entered the game batting .444 in such situations, and his RBI total is the second best in the American League.
After Barton's single off Jim Johnson, Frank Thomas drew a four-pitch walk, and Brown pounced on the first pitch he saw.
"He'd just walked a guy on four," Brown said. "I knew I was going to get a strike."
Mychael Urban is a national writer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.