OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) Just when it looked as if the Arizona Diamondbacks might blow another late lead to the Oakland Athletics, the defense delivered.
Dominic Fletcher threw out the potential go-ahead run at home in the seventh inning and the Diamondbacks rallied with two runs in the ninth for a 5-3 victory Wednesday.
“We were hung over a little bit from last night, not in the sense of being hung over from alcohol, but hungover from the idea of losing a tough game,” said manager Torey Lovullo, still smarting from a 9-8 loss in 12 innings Tuesday night. “It was still lingering in this clubhouse. We came out and made some really good plays defensively and Dom saved us.”
Lourdes Gurriel Jr. led off the ninth with a double and scored the go-ahead run on a sacrifice fly by Jose Herrera to give the Diamondbacks their fifth win in six games.
Christian Walker and Corbin Carroll homered as Arizona took two of three from Oakland in the series despite the bullpen giving up another late lead.
“A win and a series win is always important," said starter Ryne Nelson, who pitched scoreless ball into the sixth inning. "This team is really resilient. We don't back down from much. We tend to always punch back. This was just another example of us bouncing back and coming right back after it.”
Gurriel led off the ninth with a double off Shintaro Fujinami (1-5) for his seventh straight game with an extra-base hit. Two walks loaded the bases before Herrera's drive to right off Adrian Martinez allowed Gurriel to score easily.
Ketel Marte added an RBI single.
Jose Ruiz (1-0) pitched a scoreless eighth for the win. Miguel Castro pitched a perfect ninth for his third save.
The A's have lost all eight home series this season.
Arizona starter Ryne Nelson allowed a leadoff double to Esteury Ruiz in the first inning and didn’t give up another hit in 5 1-3 scoreless innings. But his winless streak extended to seven straight starts when Luis Frias gave up a 3-0 lead in the seventh.
Frias had escaped a bases-loaded, one-out jam when he replaced Nelson in the sixth inning. But he walked the first two batters in the seventh before Ramon Laureano tied the game with his second homer in as many days.
The A's had the chance to take the lead that inning but Fletcher threw out Tony Kemp at home following a single by Ruiz to keep the game tied.
Kyle Nelson allowed a grand slam to Ryan Noda in the seventh inning Tuesday night that allowed Oakland to rally from four runs down.
“I’m exhausted,” Lovullo said. “I’m emotionally spent right now, and I can’t imagine what these players feel like. I feel like it was a huge win for us. There were some moments where we could have shut down and felt sorry for ourselves that we didn’t.”
Arizona had built a 3-0 lead against Luis Medina on a solo homer by Walker in the second inning and a two-run shot by Carroll in the sixth.
Medina has had quality starts in his last two outings after a rough debut.
“He knows how to pitch,” manager Mark Kotsay said. “It's a great sign to have a young arm up here who is doing so well in his first couple of starts.”
Arizona pitchers aspire to be like Randy Johnson.
Zac Gallen unintentionally got real close in emulating the Hall of Famer.
While warming up in the outfield before Arizona’s game at Oakland on Wednesday, Gallen threw a curveball that hit a bird in midflight, apparently killing the animal.
Johnson infamously killed a bird during a spring training game in 2001. While throwing a pitch against the San Francisco Giants, a bird crossed in front of home plate and was destroyed by the baseball.
Kemp ended a long hitless streak with as single in the seventh inning. Kemp had been 0 for 18 since his last hit on May 8 and was 0 for 41 in day games this season. He jokingly signaled to the dugout to ask for the ball.
The inning didn't end well for Kemp when he was thrown out at home.
The A's drew their biggest crowd of the three-game series but the paid attendance was still only 4,519. The announced crowd of 2,064 for the opener Monday night was their smallest for a home game fans were allowed to attend since drawing 1,037 against Texas on Sept. 19, 1979. The total attendance for the series was 9,484.
After the game, the A's made a trade to acquire right-hander Lucas Erceg from Milwaukee for cash considerations. The 28-year-old Erceg is a converted infielder who switched to pitching in 2021. He is 5-2 with one save and a 4.28 ERA in 46 career games at Triple-A.
Diamondbacks: Arizona opens a three-game series at Pittsburgh on Friday night with Gellen (6-1, 2.35 ERA) set to take the mound.
Athletics: Oakland opens a three-game series at Houston on Friday night with Ken Waldichuk (1-2, 7.02) set to start.
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