Well it took eleven innings today but several streaks live on, and none of them are good. The A's losing skid is now at five games, and make that nine in a row they have lost at the Giants' digs.
You almost wish the A's bats would have stayed in hibernation. But no, we prefer a more elaborate death over quick and painless. And the boys did not disappoint today.
Nico has often said there's no substitute for homerun power, and just when all looked lost for the A's, Josh Willingham proved to be a most compliant slab of meat indeed. (Great, now I'm hungry).
And while Willingham's drive to deep left-centerfield in the top of the sixth merely cut the Giants' 2-0 lead in half, its impact was greater than just a simple scoreboard change. It also woke up an A's offense that had been more slumber than lumber: one measly run- on a bases-loaded double-play by Trevor Cahill- in 24 innings at AT&T Park.
Inspired by Willingham's sudden spark, the A's made a party out of it, erupting for a pair of scores in the seventh, and adding an insurance run in the eighth to take a 4-2 lead.
The unfamiliar feeling of euphoria dissipated when Nate Schierholtz drove a Grant Balfour offering high and deep into the right-field seats. Since it occurred with a man on base, the home run tied the game, and sent spouses and pets of AN residents in search of a safe haven.
It also left Gio Gonzalez with a no-decision, and as is often the case when you make your living as a starting pitcher for the Oakland Athletics, he deserved a better fate. Gonzalez struck out eight batters in 6-2/3 innings, and didn't walk a batter until he served free passes to the last two batters he faced. Gio also factored in the A's go-ahead rally.
Cliff Pennington- whose over-the-shoulder catch to end the bottom of the ninth was a thing of beauty- singled to lead off the seventh, and Bob Geren opted not to remove Gonzalez (even though he was at 108 pitches at the time). Gio sacrificed Pennington to second, and the latter scored on a double down the left-field line by Coco Crisp, while Pat Burrell practiced his soccer skills with a much smaller ball. Daric Barton smacked a base hit past a diving Mike Fontenot to plate Crisp and give the A's their first lead of the weekend.
Gonzalez had shut down the Giants in order in the sixth after the A's scored their first run, including two strikeouts. He needed some help to keep them off the board in the seventh. Freddy Sanchez started things off with a single, but was immediately erased by Willingham when he tried to take second on a fly out to left. Then when a tiring Gio walked the next two batters, Michael Wuertz came on to retire Aubrey Huff.
When the A's pushed across another run in the eighth, it looked as if they'd sneak away with a much-needed victory.
Clearly in the Green-and-Gold world, looks are deceiving.
First came the game-tying home run, and finally the winning rally in the eleventh after the A's could muster very little offense in the last three innings. Well at least they won't have to face decent pitching in Anaheim.
And I imagine you might have some choice words for Brian Fuentes, who took yet another loss- his sixth of the year- after failing to keep the Giants off the board in the eleventh.
How inevitable. How sickening.
And now the A's find themselves on the basement end of the standings, just five days after enjoying the penthouse view.