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Lillibridge Steals Game That A's Work Hard To Give Away

The A's worked so hard to give this one away that it would have been downright rude of Brent Lillibridge not to reach his glove high over the LF wall to bring back what might have otherwise been a game-winning 2-run HR in the 8th by Coco Crisp.

This is an easy recap to do in that it needs no embellishment -- just the facts will suffice to tell you how much the A's gave away the runs that would be the difference.

Gio Gonzalez surrendered his first run in the 3rd inning, courtesy of a walk, a balk, and eventually a run-scoring wild pitch. The walk was one of 7 Gio issued in 5.1 IP, a new career high.

Oakland tied it in the 4th on a Willingham RBI single, then fell behind again 2-1 on a solo HR by backup catcher Ramon Castro -- which was, notably, the only ordinary run the A's allowed.

After tying it again, this time 2-2, on a Matsui sac fly in the 6th, Gio was trotted out to start the bottom of the 6th despite being at 107 pitches, 7 walks, a balk, a wild pitch, three french hens, two turtle doves, and a partridge in a pear tree. How did it get to be runners at first and third with one out? Try a walk, a stolen base, a throw into CF by Kurt Suzuki, and then another walk.

And here's where you just wonder what the heck this team is doing. Brad Ziegler induced exactly the one-hopper back to the mound from Carlos Quentin he was seeking. Quentin is not fast and it was the most routine DP chance you could hope for. Inexplicably, without setting himself or waiting for his middle infielder to get near the bag, Ziegler immediately chucked the ball in the vague vicinity of 2B, before Cliff Pennington could even get near the bag, forcing Pennington to dive across 2B just to catch the ball and keep it on the infield. That made it 3-2, and thanks to Lillibridge 3-2 was the final score. I have no explanation for why Ziegler made such a hurried and awkward throw, but it is just the latest in a seemingly endless string of plays the A's have made this season that make you wonder what they worked on in spring training -- or little league.

Yet it might all have gone towards an improbable victory had it not been for the heroics of Lillibridge. It's just that kind of year. Again.