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A’s watch late lead slip away in 3-2 loss to Nationals

Oakland led 2-1 in the eighth, but were unable to hold on.

Oakland Athletics v Washington Nationals Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images

The Oakland Athletics had their chances, but watched a late lead slip away in a 3-2 loss to the Washington Nationals.

The A’s came out swinging against Nationals right-hander Jake Irvin. JJ Bleday lifted a deep fly that Nationals center fielder Alex Call made a leaping grab on just in front of the out of town scoreboard in right center. Zack Gelof followed with a sharp double to left, but Irvin settled in and got Brent Rooker to fly out and then struck out Seth Brown to leave Gelof stranded.

Luis Medina’s evening got off to a shaky start as he CJ Abrams to begin the first inning. Abrams stole second and then moved to third on a fly ball by Joey Maneses. However, Medina answered right back and struck out Keibert Ruiz and Dominic Smith to end the inning.

Things went from bad to worse for Medina in the second. Ildemaro Vargas grounded back to Medina at the mound who jogged towards first base. Vargas saw Medina napping and hustled past him to beat it out for an infield single.

Vargas moved to second as Medina walked Stone Garrett. Medina struck out Jake Alu for the first out, but then allowed an opposite field single to Blake Rutherford that loaded the bases. Call then sent a bouncer right down the line at third that Jordan Diaz fielded and stepped on third for the force out. Vargas scored on the play to give the Nationals an early lead.

Oakland tied things back up in the third as Bleday homered to deep center.

Medina retired Meneses and Ruiz to start the third before Dominic Smith lined a single to right. Vargas followed with a sharp liner to left center that Bleday flagged down with a diving catch.

Medina found himself in a jam again in the fourth, but was able to make some big pitches to keep the game tied. Garrett singled to start the inning and then moved to second after Alu was hit by a pitch. Medina struck out Rutherford, but then lost Call for a walk on the seventh pitch of the at-bat. He then got a huge second out as Abrams popped out to Nick Allen. Meneses then grounded out to third to end the inning and leave the bases loaded.

Medina would exit after the fourth. He pitched into and out of trouble, but the constant traffic elevated his pitch count. The mental lapse in the second inning cost him the only run that he allowed. He allowed four hits, two walks and one run. He struck out four while throwing 84 pitches.

Francisco Perez, who joined the active roster prior to the game, took over for Medina and retired the side in order in the fifth.

Irvin retired 10-straight hitters after Bleday’s homer before Rooker took him deep with two outs in the sixth to put the A’s back in front 2-1.

Perez stayed in to start the sixth and allowed a one-out single to Alu and then another single to Rutherford. Mark Kotsay would then go to his bullpen for Austin Pruitt who walked Call to load the bases. It took 10 pitches, but Pruitt struck Abrams for another big out. Pruitt then got Meneses to line out sharply to Brown in right to wiggle off the hook again.

Oakland’s offense got back to work in the seventh. Tyler Soderstrom led off the inning with a single and then moved all the way to third on a rocket double to left center by Lawrence Butler for his first major league hit.

With the infield in, Langeliers grounded to Abrams at short for the first out. Irvin then struck out Allen for the second out. Irvin was then replaced by lefty Jose Ferrer. Kotsay countered by sending up Esteury Ruiz to pinch hit for Bleday, but he popped out to Abrams at short to miss out on a big opportunity to add on to their lead.

Kirby Snead replaced Pruitt and retired the side in order in the seventh. Angel Felipe took over in the eighth and walked Garrett to start the inning. Alu then reached on a bunt single that perfectly placed to the left side of the mound. A wild pitch moved both runners into scoring position before Felipe walked Rutherford to load the bases with no one out.

Lane Thomas came on to pinch-hit for Call and delivered a single down the line in right that scored to Garrett to tie the game. Felipe continued to battle and got Abrams to bounce back to the mound for a 1-2-3 double play. He then struck out Meneses to strand two more runners in scoring position.

Oakland went down in order against Kyle Finnegan in the ninth. Lucas Erceg then entered and allowed a walk-off homer to Ruiz on the first pitch he threw to end the game.

With the loss, the A’s fall to 33-84 on the season. They will try to avoid a sweep on Sunday with Ken Waldichuk matching up against Trevor Williams.