Matt Joyce’s grand slam in the ninth put the A’s in position to pull off an incredible comeback, but they couldn’t overcome a late-inning assault from the Washington Nationals in an 11-10 loss at the Coliseum on Sunday afternoon.
“It shows some grit,” A’s manager Bob Melvin told The Associated Press about his team’s comeback. “It leaves a better feeling in a game that looks like a blowout and the next thing you know we’re in it to the last at-bat.”
After the Nationals scored eight runs in the last two innings, the A’s rallied for six runs in the ninth, capped off by Joyce’s one-out grand slam to right. The A’s also scored runs off a Stephen Vogt single and a Matt Olson walk with the bases loaded in the ninth.
After Joyce’s grand slam, reliever Shawn Kelley retired Chad Pinder and Jed Lowrie in order.
“That’s American League baseball,” Nationals manager Dusty Baker told AP. “A lead is never safe because they’re used to coming back and having big innings because the offensive clubs hit the ball out of the ballpark. We didn’t walk guys to get to that situation, they hit us.”
The A’s also scored a run in the eighth when Pinder doubled in Joyce.
The Nationals scored five runs in the ninth off back-to-back home runs from Matt Wieters, who hit a two-run shot, and Turner, who followed it up with a solo blast, and a two-run single from Daniel Murphy.
But the turning point came in the eighth when Ryan Zimmerman broke a 3-3 tie with a three-run shot to left.
Turner set the stage for Zimmerman’s eighth-inning heroices, leading off the inning with a single off Madson (1-4), who earned the loss in just 2/3 innings on the hill. After Turner stole second, the A’s intentionally walked Harper with one out, and Zimmerman made them pay, lifting his 16th homer of the season to left. He went 3 for 5 with three RBIs and two runs scored.
The A’s tied the game at 3 in the seventh when Davis launched a first-pitch changeup from Nationals starter Tanner Roark off the left field foul pole with Jed Lowrie on first base. With 17 home runs, Davis ranks second in the American League behind the 18 hit by New York Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge.
Davis went 3 for 4, scoring two runs with two RBIs in a game that was scheduled to be a day off. The 29-year-old outfielder found his way into the lineup after Mark Canha was scratched a couple of hours before first pitch because of a stomach flu.
After Sonny Gray cruised through five innings of work, allowing just three baserunners, the National League’s highest-scoring offense proved just how deep its vaunted lineup is, scoring three quick runs when Wieters, Michael Taylor and Turner reached base in succession in the sixth.
Turner brought in a pair of runs by smacking a 93 mph fastball off the top of the 15-foot extended wall in right-center field after Wieters led off the inning with a walk and Taylor followed it up with a line drive single.
The Nationals leadoff man scored on the next pitch when Brian Goodwin lifted a sacrifice fly to left.
The sixth inning hiccup spoiled an otherwise dazzling start for Gray, who held the Nationals big bats in check, getting Harper, Zimmerman, Daniel Murphy and Anthony Rendon to go a combined 1 for 11 with three strikeouts and two double plays.
Gray surrendered three earned runs on four hits and three walks in seven innings.
“With that lineup, if you put guys on base, if you give guys free passes, they will do some damage,” Gray told AP. “You have to stay on top of your game with every hitter. With the exception of three batters, I thought it was an OK start.”
The A’s opened the scoring in the bottom of the first when Davis led off the inning with a double and scored on back-to-back ground outs from Yonder Alonso and Ryon Healy.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.