07/19/08 8:15 PM ET
A's bullpen caves in to Yanks in 12th
DiNardo hits Molina with bases full, spoiling ninth-inning rally
By Willie Bans / MLB.com
The A's lost to the Yankees, 4-3, on Saturday, when reliever Lenny DiNardo hit Jose Molina on his right knee with a 1-2 cutter to score Derek Jeter with the bases loaded and one out.
Oakland staged a comeback in the ninth, only to see closer Huston Street blow a save with nobody on and two outs. When Molina finally arrived to the plate, it was DiNardo's second inning, the infield was in and DiNardo threw the pitch he wanted.
"It was just an inch too far," said DiNardo, who took the loss for Oakland (51-46), pitching 1 1/3 innings, giving up two hits, two walks and the game-winning run. "I had two strikes on him, so I'm not trying to give him a cookie over the middle to poke in. I was just trying to throw a cutter to make him roll over and swing through it, and it was an inch in. That's basically the story."
Or at least part of it.
The other portion includes the offensive woes of the A's, who went 2-for-13 with runners in scoring position and left 14 runners on base. Oakland, which leads the Majors in strikeouts, also fanned 18 times.
The Yankees weren't much better, leaving 21 runners on base and going 3-for-18 with runners in scoring position.
Street's 18th save looked like a lock until Wilson Betemit's RBI single to left field tied the game at 3 in the bottom of the ninth and scored Robinson Cano, who had doubled with two outs.
"I don't think it makes a difference how the game ends, if it's more deflating or not," A's manager Bob Geren said. "When you don't win, you don't win. We used a lot of the bullpen and with two outs and nobody on base. Statistically, the odds of winning are so great. That part's disappointing."
It was Street's fifth blown save of the season, as the defeat extended Oakland's losing streak to four games.
"I probably wanted it to be in the dirt, but it was six inches away from being in the dirt," Street said of the 0-2 slider he threw to Betemit. "I guess if I could have that pitch back, I would have bounced it as opposed to throwing it at his ankles. I mean, I tip my hat. [Betemit] put a good swing on what I felt was a pretty good pitch."
Street, who hadn't allowed a run in 12 previous innings against the Yankees in his career, said his control wasn't a problem and that he would shake off the outing.
"You have to," Street said. "If you don't, then you're doomed."
Oakland had gone ahead, 3-2, in the top of the ninth, when Ryan Sweeney hit an RBI single off Mariano Rivera down the left-field line to score pinch-runner Rajai Davis, who had stolen second, with no outs. But the next three hitters struck out.
In the seventh inning, Wes Bankston scored on Yankees reliever Jose Veras' wild pitch to tie the game at 2. Carlos Gonzalez was then intentionally walked before Bobby Crosby grounded out, leaving three runners on base.
A's starter Sean Gallagher, making just his second start for his new club since the July 8 trade that brought him to Oakland from the Chicago Cubs, lasted five innings and allowed two runs, seven hits and four walks, while striking out seven.
Gallagher showed resilience after New York's first four batters reached base in the second inning, and Melky Cabrera's RBI single and Brett Gardner's RBI double put the Yankees ahead, 2-0. Gallagher subsequently struck out the top of the Yankees' lineup in order.
"The impressive thing there was when he got in the jam, he ended up striking out the side, and that takes a lot of talent to do that -- especially against this lineup," Geren said. "You look at that from a real positive point."
Oakland didn't take advantage of a productive fifth inning, leaving three runners on base and scoring just one run on Sweeney's sacrifice fly with two outs despite loading the bases.
When first baseman Daric Barton was placed on the disabled list on Saturday, Bankston was called up from Triple-A Sacramento to bat eighth. He was 2-for-5 with one run scored and three strikeouts but was pulled in the 12th inning after suffering cramps throughout his body.
Emil Brown took Bankston's place and made his first career appearance at first base. He also grounded out for Oakland's final out in the 12th inning and, like many who who played the entire game, left runners on base (two).
"We played well -- it was a great game," Geren said. "We were right there and just didn't win it."
Willie Bans is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.