OAKLAND – The A's won't be sending their 3-2 victory over Cleveland on Friday night to the Beautiful Baseball Hall of Fame, but at this point of the season, they won't be picky.
Swept by the Indians in a four-game series in early May, the A's notched an important opening triumph in this weekend series against a strong American League wild-card contender and got back within a half-game of first place in the A.L. West.
They managed to do it even though starter A.J. Griffin struggled to get through five innings, and the bullpen repeatedly averted late-inning disaster. Gold Glove right fielder Josh Reddick had a throwing error that allowed Cleveland's first run to score, and even manager Bob Melvin made a questionable strategic move, ordering Josh Donaldson to bunt in the fourth inning after Brandon Moss had opened the inning with a double.
For the second straight day, the A's got off to a promising first-inning start. Reddick lined a two-out single and Yoenis Cespedes followed with his 20th home run of the season.
Cespedes, who went through a 25-game homerless streak, has now homered five times in his last 16 games and finally appears to be heating up. He has 15 RBIs in his last 17 games.
But that would be all the A's would get for a while against Cleveland starter Justin Masterson (13-9).
The Indians got an unearned run off Griffin in the third. Nick Swisher lined a one-out single, and after Reddick made a sensational diving catch to rob Jason Kipnis of a hit for the second out, Carlos Santana singled to right. Swisher tried for third and Reddick's throw sailed high over the base and caromed off a dugout barrier. Swisher was waved home by the umpires on the error.
Griffin struggled through his five innings, but somehow didn't give up an earned run despite allowing four hits and five walks on 104 pitches. When he escaped a two-out, bases-loaded situation in the fifth, Melvin turned to his bullpen to salvage the game.
Dan Otero pitched a 1-2-3 sixth, but Sean Doolittle – who was tagged with a blown save, but got the win – allowed the tying run in the seventh and was fortunate not to allow more. Drew Stubbs hit a leadoff double off the wall that Cespedes appeared to have a good chance to catch in center field. Michael Bourn sacrificed Stubbs to third and Swisher drilled a first-pitch single to right to tie the score 2-2.
Doolittle then walked a batter, got Santana to pop up, and walked another batter to load things up for Asdrubal Cabrera. Cabrera just got under a pitch and hit a high fly out to left to end the inning.