NEW YORK – Grant Balfour was angry. He had just given up a broken-bat single to Brett Gardner and thrown a wild pitch to Robinson Cano, moving the potential tying run to second base with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning.
A's manager Bob Melvin called for an intentional walk.
"I don't make the decisions. He felt that that was the decision to make. That's not really for me to answer on this stuff," the A's closer said.
Up came Vernon Wells, 6 for 12 with two homers and two doubles against Balfour in his career.
Balfour fell behind 2-1 in the count, got two foul balls, then got Wells to swing over a 92-mph fastball, saving Oakland's 5-4 win over the Yankees on Sunday.
"I guess I got lucky ... facing Wells then, with the history," Balfour said.
Andy Pettitte allowed Luke Montz's solo home run in the fourth – his first in 4 1/2 years – and Yoenis Cespedes' two-run homer in the fifth.
After the Yankees rallied against Jerry Blevins to tie the score 4-4 in the sixth, the A's Josh Donaldson homered into the second deck in left field in the eighth off Boone Logan (2-2).
Balfour retired Chris Nelson on a line drive to right and struck out pinch hitter Brennan Boesch before Gardner's hit. Cano, who went in 4 for 12 against Balfour, took a called strike before the reliever bounced a curveball, which nicked the wrist of catcher Derek Norris, temporarily creating some numbness. Melvin didn't hesitate to call for the walk.
"Trust me, I know it's 6 for 12 and two homers sitting right behind him, but in this ballpark and the way Cano is swinging, it was a better option," Melvin said.
Balfour earned his fifth save and 23rd in a row in a streak that began a year ago Sunday. He would rather have ended the game by retiring Cano, who leads the Yankees with eight home runs.
"I was fired up. I want to face him. I want to get him out," Balfour said. "It was a 1-1 count. I felt good about it. Like I said, it was Bob's decision."
Sean Doolittle (2-0) pitched a perfect seventh, and Ryan Cook got out of a two-on, one-out jam in the eighth. Oakland has won seven of its last 10 against the Yankees.
"I've been through so many unnerving ninths that I know you literally have to play 27 outs and three strikes on the last out to get a win here," Melvin said.
Montz, called up from the minors after Coco Crisp and Chris Young were injured in Tuesday's 19-inning win over the Angels, homered leading off the fourth. It was his second big-league homer and first since Sept. 28, 2008, for Washington.
"It felt like my first one again," he said. "Being at Yankee Stadium against Pettitte made it that much more impressive. Big game, big win."
Cespedes homered into the visiting bullpen in left for a 4-1 lead in the fifth. After he crossed the plate and exchanged high-fives with teammates, he waved to his mother, Estela Milanes, who was sitting behind the third-base dugout. The Cuban defector was reunited with his family members earlier this year.
Oakland's Josh Reddick was 0 for 33 at new Yankee Stadium before he doubled to lead off the ninth.