It turns out there's one time it's good to leave the bases loaded: When you walk off with a win. Frustrated all night long after leaving the bases loaded and coming up empty in the 1st inning, again in the 2nd inning, and again in the 7th, Derek Norris came up with the bases loaded and 2 outs in the 10th and delivered a single up the middle off of Grant Balfour. As the winning run scored, the game ended allowing the A's to leave three more on base ... LOBs 16, 17, and 18 for the evening.
As for the winning rally, I have to "call 'em as I see 'em" and while I am not, repeat not, giving it back, I have to say the bottom of the 10th came courtesy of poor calls by not one umpire but two. With one out, Sam Fuld singled and stole second. John Jaso then took a 3-2 breaking ball that was, as far as I'm concerned, a strike. However C.B. Bucknor, who had a terrible night behind the plate all evening just as he has done his entire career, called it a ball. Josh Donaldson then should have struck out on a 2-2 pitch when he tried to check his swing and failed -- unless you're 1B umpire Quinn Wolcott who ruled Donaldson had held up the swing in time. Joe Maddon was ejected and two pitches later Donaldson walked to load the bases. Brandon Moss struck out before Norris delivered the winning blow, a ground ball up the middle.
Good thing too, because the Angels won meaning a loss would have put the A's into a first place tie. Jeff Samardzija was very good, limiting the Rays to 2 runs in 7 innings. That was matched by Jed Lowrie's 3rd inning RBI double that missed being a HR by inches, and Donaldson's RBI single in the 6th. Each tied the game, first 1-1 and then 2-2.
Luke Gregerson worked a scoreless 8th, Doolittle a scoreless 9th. However, Doolittle had runners at 1B and 3B with one out when pinch-hitter Brandon Guyer laid down a safety squeeze that Doolittle fielded and shoveled to the plate in time for the tag. Ryan Cook was brilliant in the 10th, throwing 9 pitches, all strikes, fanning two and working a 1-2-3 inning.
Whether you thank Samardzija, the bullpen, Norris, the umpires, or your favorite deity, you can be thankful that despite "a night of frustration" for 4 hours the A's walk-off the field tonight in sole possession of 1st place for at least one more day.