OAKLAND (AP) — The Oakland Athletics have that September swagger again.
And it’s looking a lot like a year ago when they rallied to win the AL West and stun the Texas Rangers on the season’s final day — with walkoffs and whipped cream pie celebrations.
They are one win closer to clinching another division crown after Josh Donaldson hit a game-winning, bases-loaded single with two outs in the ninth inning in a 2-1 victory over the Los Angeles Angels on Tuesday night.
Donaldson delivered his third career game-ending hit — all this season — in Oakland’s eighth walkoff victory this year. He received both a whipped cream pie from Josh Reddick followed by a dumping from the Gatorade bottle.
“I guess I have success in that situation,” said Donaldson, 8 for 11 with 16 RBIs when the bases are loaded. “I think a big part of it is allowing the ball to get deeper to me and hitting the ball up the middle to right-center.”
Grant Balfour (1-3) struck out the side in order in the ninth for the win as Oakland decreased its magic number to win the West to six.
Alberto Callaspo singled to start the bottom of the ninth against Michael Kohn (1-3) and Jemile Weeks entered as a pinch-runner. Weeks advanced on Stephen Vogt’s fly to left and pinch-hitter Jed Lowie was intentionally walked to bring up Coco Crisp.
Crisp walked on the 10th pitch he saw to load the bases. Daric Barton struck out with the Angels bringing in right fielder Kole Calhoun as a fifth infielder.
“In the position we’re in as a team, it was a timely hit by J.D.,” Weeks said. “Coco’s at-bat was huge. Everybody in that inning did something special.”
There had been 11 full-counts between the teams and none of those batters reached base until Crisp’s free pass.
Donaldson fell behind 0-2 before coming through against Kohn.
“Mike almost got back from the brink. Really one pitch away,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “Just couldn’t get the fastball where he wanted to to Donaldson and he hit it. ... Had Crisp 0-2 then lost him. Just a couple pitches got away from him and cost him.”
The A’s lead the Rangers by 6 1-2 games. Texas won 7-1 at Tampa Bay to snap a seven-game losing streak.
Mike Trout hit another deep drive over the wall in center for his second home run in as many games, but that was all for the Angels.
Trout connected on a 1-0 pitch from Sonny Gray with two outs in the first to stake the Angels to another early lead. The Angels said Trout became the first player in AL history with 25 home runs, 30 stolen bases and 100 walks.
The A’s tied it in the bottom half on Brandon Moss’ ground-rule double.
Gray allowed one run and five hits, struck out five and walked one in six strong innings — but he faced six three-ball counts and saw his pitch count climb in a hurry. He threw 98 pitches.
Oakland reliever Ryan Cook hit consecutive batters with pitches, Howie Kendrick and Trout, to load the bases in the seventh after J.B. Shuck’s two-out single. Jerry Blevins relieved and struck out Josh Hamilton.
Garrett Richards struck out six in seven-plus innings, but is still winless in seven career outings and three starts against the A’s. He gave way to Buddy Boshers after Donaldson beat out an infield single to start the eighth.
Boshers struck out Moss and Juan Gutierrez relieved to record the final two outs in the eighth.
The Angels lost for only the third time in their last 13 road games a day after a 12-1 win to snap the A’s five-game winning streak.
This victory clinched the season series for Oakland over the Angels for the third straight year.
A’s left fielder Yoenis Cespedes played designated hitter for a second straight day as he nurses an injured right shoulder. An MRI showed tendinitis and no tear or serious structural problem. Manager Bob Melvin will give Cespedes time to let the arm calm down so he can throw comfortably before he returns to the outfield.
A cortisone shot is a possibility.
NOTES: Oakland SS Jed Lowrie missed his second straight start with a tight right hamstring. He is expected to start Wednesday afternoon’s series finale. ... A’s C John Jaso took batting practice on the field and was doing other baseball activities as he tries to return from a concussion before the end of the season. Jaso has been out since July 25. “He’s turned a corner the last four or five days where he feels pretty good,” Melvin said. ... The Angels reinstated INF Chris Nelson from the 15-day DL after he missed 19 games with a strained right hamstring. ... Oakland will make ab