Around the 4th inning, there emerged an unmistakable stench which I assumed was the A's offense. However, it turned out to be a dead rat -- make that part of one -- and the evening would get only better and better. First, Bob Geren was ejected, though it's unclear what he was upset about. Presumably balls and strikes, but I'd be hard pressed to identify an offending pitch or sequence or trend. But hey, soon after the A's took and kept the lead, so way to go.
Gio Gonzalez was electric in striking out the side in the top of the 1st and the A's took an early lead with a run in the bottom half, driven in by Hideki Matsui's single to LF. Gio then imploded in the 2nd, with no thunderstorm to bail him out. After loading the bases with nobody out, Gio walked home the tying run but righted the ship to strike out J.J. Hardy and induce a 6-4-3 DP from Jake Fox. It was one of four DPs the A's turned tonight.
Oakland retook the lead in the bottom of the 2nd on David DeJesus' RBI single, but missed a big inning by millimeters -- prior to DeJesus' hit, Andy LaRoche's drive down the RF line picked up dirt next to the chalk, so close that Geren (apparently determined to get kicked out at some point tonight) argued but failed to get the call changed or himself excused. Pennington would give that run back in the 5th with an ill-advised, and wild, throw on a tough 3-6-1 DP chance.
Gio fanned 7 in the first 3 innings, but ran up the pitch count, walked 5 and hit a batter, and left one batter into the 6th. Chris Tillman was worse, throwing 102 pitches in just 4.1 IP innings and surviving with just 2 runs mostly due to well hit balls caught (Sweeney, Matsui, DeJesus) and balls served barely foul (LaRoche, LaRoche again).
The A's broke through against the Orioles' bullpen as Alfredo Simon, who had come in to strike out Kurt Suzuki and Mark Ellis with the bases loaded, gave up 3 in the 6th courtesy of RBI hits by Sweeney, Willingham, and Suzuki. Willingham capped the scoring in the 8th with a solo HR, his team leading 8th of the season.
Meanwhile, the A's bullpen was outstanding as Brad Ziegler tossed 2 scoreless, Joey Devine and Michael Wuertz 1 each. And with Kansas City erupting for 5 runs in the 14th to beat Texas 12-7, the A's end the night 1.5 games out of first place, which sounds better than "all alone in last place," which is also true. It's kind of like the distinction between "there's half a rat under my couch" and "there's half a rat that's not under my couch." Honestly, I can't take the stench anymore so I'm outta here -- but at least it's not the A's offense!