Down seven, A's storm back
Ellis, Cust, Suzuki, Barton deliver big hits to stun Angels
ANAHEIM -- The A's seemingly love nothing more than to be a thorn in the side of the contending teams in the American League West.
Fresh off splitting a four-game series with the Rangers that put a real damper in Texas' playoff chances, the A's turned their focus to tormenting the division-leading Angels for the last two nights.
Well, the A's couldn't have gotten to the Angels anymore than they did on Saturday when they showed their resiliency by erasing an early seven-run deficit and then overcoming a late one-run deficit in a wild 15-10 win over the Angels in front of 41,014 at Angel Stadium.
"Our team always seems to fight back," A's manager Bob Geren said. "The attitude is right because we never quit. There were so many clutch hits it's hard to pinpoint one. It was contributions from everyone."
It was also especially an impressive win because it came in a game in which they trailed by seven runs against right-hander John Lackey, who entered Saturday's game with a lifetime record of 16-4 against the A's.
"To go up against a guy like John Lackey and you'd say we'd get 15 runs and 19 hits, it wouldn't be something I would believe would happen," Geren said.
Oakland, though, trailed 9-2 after four innings and then erased that deficit over the next three innings before finding itself down a run after Gary Matthews Jr. had a two-out, RBI single off reliever Craig Breslow in the seventh inning.
But the A's came back with six runs in the eighth with all six runs coming with two outs. Kurt Suzuki, Jack Cust and Daric Barton each had RBI hits in the inning before Mark Ellis delivered a three-run homer to put the game out of reach, lifting the A's to their 11th win in 13 games and within five games of .500, with seven to play.
"It was a good rally," Ellis said. "We could've rolled over and let the Angels have the game, but we came back. It was a real good inning for us."
Ellis' home run off reliever Matt Palmer was essentially the backbreaker for the Angels as they couldn't come back from the late five-run deficit.
"Ellis' homer, I thought, was huge," Geren said. "It gave us some breathing room. "The bullpen came in and shut them down the rest of the way. But it's not really uncommon."
But Angels manager Mike Scioscia thought it was Suzuki's two-out, game-tying single in the inning that was the key hit for the A's.
That is obviously a key point in the game," Scioscia said. "If we got that out, we can turn it over to Brian [Fuentes] to finish.
"Those guys [batting with runners] in scoring position were terrific, and with two outs and runners in scoring position, they were terrific. We just couldn't hold them."
It was a drastic change from earlier in the game when starter Dana Eveland struggled before leaving in the fourth inning.
The A's scored four runs in the fifth with Suzuki's sacrifice fly coming just moments before Cust unloaded for a three-run homer off Lackey. Oakland then added two more runs in the sixth against reliever Darren Oliver on an RBI double by Adam Kennedy and a wild pitch by Oliver that allowed Kennedy to score from third.
"The odds weren't in our favor at that point, but our guys kept having good at-bats and stayed aggressive," Kennedy said. "It led to a good win."
The A's then tied the game in the seventh on an RBI single by Barton off reliever Jason Bulger to complete the seven-run comeback.
"It was fun," Kennedy said. "I keep saying this, but everyone was hitting up and down the lineup."
The offensive outburst from both teams came on a night where both starting pitchers struggled. Eveland lasted just 3 1/3 innings, allowing eight runs, five earned, on five hits along with four walks. And Lackey allowed six runs on 10 hits over five innings to also get saddled with a no-decision.
Both starters were also hurt by early home runs as Suzuki hit a two-run homer in the first and Juan Rivera hit a three-run homer in the bottom half.
"Both teams really swung the bat really well," Ellis said. "We were lucky to get some offense against Lackey. He seems to always get the better end of us, but we were fortunate there."
Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.