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A’s end Britton’s save record at 60

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POSTED August 24, 2017 12:16 a.m.

BALTIMORE (AP) — For 60 straight appearances, Zach Britton dealt with the pleasure and pressure of fulfilling his job description when called upon to preserve a victory.

The Baltimore Orioles closer was perfect for so long, he put his name in the American League record book.

He will have to settle for that, because his run at setting the major league mark ended Wednesday amid the evening shadows of Camden Yards.

Britton’s AL-record run of converting 60 straight save attempts was ruined when he blew a two-run lead and failed to get out of the ninth inning in a game Baltimore ultimately won in the 12th, 8-7 over the Oakland Athletics.

Baltimore led 7-5 heading into the ninth when Britton entered to seal the victory, just as he had been doing successfully since the final days of the 2015 season. On this occasion, however, the left-hander gave up three straight hits before a sacrifice fly by Matt Joyce tied it.

Following a walk to Khris Davis, Britton was replaced by Miguel Castro (3-1), who quelled the uprising and kept Oakland at bay to the finish.

“I was pretty disappointed,” Britton said. “Just wasn’t very good at all today. Where we are right now, you want to win those games and obviously we did and it’s because of Castro.”

Manny Machado led off the 12th with a home run off Simon Castro (1-2) to end a game that lasted 4 hours, 20 minutes.

Machado’s 28th homer enabled Baltimore to win two of three from the Athletics and remain relevant in the wild-card chase. Since sweeping Kansas City on July 31-Aug. 2, Baltimore had lost three series and split two.

But the story of the game was Britton, whose streak began on Oct. 1, 2015, extended through all of last season and went for 11 more saves this year. He had not blown a save since Sept. 20, 2015, at Tampa Bay.

Britton finished well short of Eric Gagne’s major league mark of 84, set from 2002-04.

“I just called him in my office and congratulated him. You won’t see it again,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “And he does hold the record in my mind, OK?”

The Orioles let a five-run lead shrink to 6-5 in the eighth before Chris Davis hit his 20th home run to provide a bit of breathing room for Britton.

It wasn’t enough.

“I didn’t make quality pitches today and that’s the gist of it really,” Britton said. “If you get beat with good pitches, I think it’s a different feeling. But, you know, today just wasn’t sharp at all from the get go.”

Britton confirmed after the game that he will get an MRI on his left knee, which has been giving him trouble since 2014, but would not blame his ineffectiveness on the injury.

“I pitched through it the last three or four years,” he said.

After Trey Mancini hit a three-run homer in the Baltimore fourth, Welington Castillo delivered a two-run drive in the sixth to make it 6-1. But the A’s chased starter Dylan Bundy in a two-run seventh and further cut the gap when Joyce hit a two-run shot off Mychal Givens.

“There are games you lose, and there are games you fight about as hard as you can possibly fight,” manager Bob Melvin said. “To come back from where we were earlier in the game, 6-1, and then score off Britton like that, our guys showed a lot of heart today. Unfortunately, we end up on the losing end. These guys battled as hard as we’ve seen all year and continue to battle.”

Recalled from Triple-A Nashville before the game, Oakland starter Daniel Gossett gave up five runs and eight hits in five-plus innings.

ROSTER MOVES

Athletics: RHP Michael Brady was optioned to Triple-A Nashville to make room for Gossett. ... After the game, Oakland traded OF Rajai Davis to Boston for minor league OF Rafael Rincones.

Orioles: Activated Castro from the bereavement list and optioned RHP Alec Asher to Triple-A Norfolk.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Athletics: Melvin has not yet decided whether RHP Paul Blackburn will make his next start after he was hit with a line drive on the right wrist Tuesday.

Orioles: RHP Hunter Harvey, Baltimore’s No. 1 pick (22nd overall) in 2013, continued his climb back from Tommy John surgery on Tuesday with first appearance at Single-A Delmarva this season.

UP NEXT

Athletics: After a day off Thursday, RHP Kendall Graveman (3-4, 4.54 ERA) draws the start at home in the opener of a three-game series against Texas. Graveman is 2-2 with 5.20 ERA in six career starts against the Rangers.

Orioles: Baltimore also has Thursday off. It begins a three-game set at Boston on Friday, with RHP Jeremy Hellickson (1-2, 6.35 in four starts with the Orioles) on the mound.


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