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Game #67: A's Win One Run Game...Really

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With the help of a tremendous game by Billy Burns in the field, in the box, and on the bases, the A's win a seesaw battle started by Scott Kazmir, who helped his cause by not only starting for the A's for five innings, but knocking in the run that got the A's on the board and led to two more; the A's first hit by a pitcher since Tommy Milone in 2013. Despite another bullpen meltdown in the eighth, the A's were gritty and plucky, pushing another run across the plate in the ninth and watching Clippard nail down a 1, 2, 3 save for the A's third win in a row.

Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

Well, it's no secret around these parts that the 2015 Oakland Athletics save their most painful losses for the days in which I recap. And while I could take this personally, I have to remind myself that the 2015 A's lose most of their games in painful, unusual and heartbreaking ways, so we're kind of used to it. What we aren't used to; however, is glorious wins, in which the team has to dig a little deeper, overcome obstacles (usually created by their defense and bullpen), and fight to the finish line, which is a "W" on the board; in this case, their third in a row.

Yes, the bullpen had another bad inning, courtesy of the second inning of Drew Pomeranz and his replacement Evan Scribner in the eighth (double-play, gooooood, home run to follow, baaaaaaaad), but I think it's most important to focus on the shutdown inning by Fernando Rodriguez as he replaced Scott Kazmir relatively early in the game in the sixth, Pomeranz' scoreless seventh and Tyler Clippard's perfect ninth, striking out the side. And especially in this season from hell, I'm perfectly fine with the schadenfreude of Derek Norris striking out to end the game, after he badmouthed the A's but good coming into this series.

With both Vogt and Lawrie taking a much-needed breather on the bench to start today's game, there were early talks of a no-hitter to this A's lineup, who was also missing their DH in the NL park (insert archaic rules rant here). Indeed, the A's didn't get their first hit until the fifth inning, long after San Diego took the lead with a home run off Kazmir in the third, and a weird bunt single in the fourth, taking advantage of a somewhat-out-of-position A's infield. Down 2-0 in the fifth, with Max Muncy on second base courtesy of the A's first hit, his ringing one-out double, Sam Fuld stepped up to the plate with two outs. He walked, likely only because an A's pitcher was on deck.

And then, up to the plate strode Scott Kazmir, determined to help his cause, stomachache and all. And singled in the A's first run. But more importantly, extended the inning for Billy Burns, who in addition to making a terrific catch-turned-double-play earlier in the game, tripled in the tying and go-ahead runs, and if not for Kazmir running directly in front of him, likely would have had an inside-the-park-home run. But the 3-2 lead for the A's had to be enough.

Kazmir's upset stomach did not lend itself to the needed shut-down inning in the fifth, as he alone made the error to put a runner on base, allowed a steal of second base, and after the runner moved to third on a ground-out, Kasmir balked the run home to tie the game at three.

The A's immediately answered back with a Reddick single and a home run by Zobrist in the sixth, and after Kazmir left the game, Rodriguez got the shutout inning they were all looking for. So did Pomeranz in the seventh, but two singles to start the eighth chased Pomeranz from the game and replaced him with Scribner. In his defense, he immediately recorded a double-play, scoring one run, but the mistake he made was a home run to Matt Kemp to once again tie the game.

Not to be outdone, the A's came right back. Sam Fuld once again walked to lead off the ninth and with one out, stole second base. Proving once again that replay is useless, he was called out on the replay, and the A's had two outs with no base runners. But then, Billy Burns stepped in. He also walked, and he successfully stole second base, putting himself in a perfect position when Eric Sogard singled. Holding a 6-5 lead, the A's brought in their closer and Clippard struck out the side swinging.

That's a WIN and a SWEEP. The series moves to Oakland tomorrow night as Jesse Chavez tries to make it four in a row in a division that is not yet over.

Now it's time to turn your attention to another sport and see if the team sharing the parking lot can bring home a championship banner.