CHICAGO (AP) — Eric O’Flaherty wasn’t able to help the Oakland Athletics’ ailing bullpen.
Tyler Flowers hit a solo home run to tie the game in the ninth inning and then added another shot in the 12th to give the Chicago White Sox a 5-4 victory over the A’s on Monday night.
Flowers ended the game with a drive off of Jesse Chavez (8-8) over the left-field fence with one out in the 12th. The White Sox were a strike away from a loss when Flowers connected against O’Flaherty in the ninth.
Oakland closer Sean Doolittle was unavailable because of an intercostal strain. It was the second straight game the A’s relievers couldn’t hold a late lead.
On Sunday, Ryan Cook walked three of his four batters, helping the Astros score two runs in the ninth without a hit in Oakland’s 4-3 loss.
One night later, O’Flaherty was one pitch away from securing a win before hanging a slider to Flowers.
“Obviously, guys are going to feel down a little bit, but that’s what is so great about this team is that they know how to battle adversity,” O’Flaherty said. “That’s what this game does, it tests you, sees what you are made of.
“We have a lot of tough guys in this clubhouse that battled adversity through the minor leagues all the way through their career, all of us has, so it’s a test. It’s definitely a test right now. I had a chance to step up and put one away for the guys today and didn’t do that. There is no worst feeling than that when you’re on a team battling for the playoffs, but you just have to keep grinding and stay at it.”
O’Flaherty said recent back stiffness wasn’t a factor in his struggles.
It was Flowers’ first career game-winning homer. The catcher became the first player to hit a tying home run in the ninth and a game-winning homer in extra innings since Arizona’s Paul Goldschmidt did it on Aug. 13, 2013, against Baltimore.
“For him to be able to tie one up and then win it, you’re happy for him,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “You’ve seen him go through some struggles offensively and has looked good at other points.
“For everything he does behind the plate, it’s nice for him to get this side of it, too.”
Javy Guerra (2-3) pitched two scoreless innings for the victory.
Oakland lost for the ninth time in 11 games but remained atop the AL wild-card race.
“There is a sense of urgency every game. We have 19 games left,” Athletics manager Bob Melvin said.
The Athletics scored a run against Eric Surkamp in the eighth to take a 4-3 lead.
Pinch-hitter Alberto Callaspo started the rally with a walk, and after pinch-runner Billy Burns stole second, Coco Crisp hit a soft single that Dayan Viciedo played passively in left field. Sam Fuld followed with a well-executed bunt that scored Burns from third.
The Athletics had a runner on third and no outs in the ninth, but Ronald Belisario induced Nate Freiman to hit into a double play that killed the threat.
Oakland starter Sonny Gray pitched effectively for seven innings but didn’t figure in the decision. The right-hander gave up three runs — two earned — four hits and three walks.
“We weren’t terrific defensively early on, then after giving up a couple of runs he pitched terrific,” Melvin said. “He really battled, after what was a tough start to be able to recover like that, he pitched really good.”
Chicago counterpart Hector Noesi took a one-hitter and a 2-0 lead into the fifth inning, which Derek Norris opened with a single. Josh Reddick followed with a home run to right field, and Jed Lowrie did the same on the next pitch. It marked the fourth time Oakland has hit back-to-back homers this season.
The home runs were the 24th and 25th off Noesi this season, giving him the league lead. The right-hander allowed four hits and one walk in 6 1-3 innings.
Fuld protected the 3-2 lead in the bottom half, when the 5-foot-10 left fielder went above the fence to rob Alexei Ramirez of a solo homer.
Conor Gillapsie tied it 3-3 with a solo homer in the sixth.
The White Sox broke out to a 2-0 lead without the benefit of a hit in the first, which Adam Eaton and Ramirez began with consecutive walks. One out later, first baseman Brandon Moss couldn’t handle Gillaspie’s bouncer for an error that allowed a run. A wild pitch moved the runners before Avisail Garcia hit a sacrifice fly.
Athletics: Doolittle reported no complications after he threw 20 pitches off a mound. The left-hander is scheduled to pitch to batters on Wednesday, and barring a setback, he might come off the DL the next day. ... O’Flaherty tested his back before the game and felt well enough for bullpen duty. ... C John Jaso will consult with concussion expert Dr. Micky Collins in Pittsburgh on Wednesday. If cleared to play, the veteran is likely to come back as a pinch-hitter and designated hitter, although a return to the field remains possible later this month.
White Sox: 1B Paul Konerko remains out indefinitely because of a fractured left hand. He hopes to return before the end of the season, which will be his last before retirement.
In a matchup of left-handers, the Athletics will send Jon Lester (13-10, 2.54) to the mound against John Danks (9-10, 5.12) on Tuesday night.
Athletics designated hitter Adam Dunn received a University of Texas golf cart from ex-teammates John Danks and Chris Sale before the game. “They could have handed me a Texas pencil and it would have been pretty cool,” said the Houston native, who then joked, “I probably won’t sell it immediately.”
Dunn returned to Chicago for the first time since he was dealt last month.