The silver lining for the Oakland Athletics is that they are still only six games behind the Houston Astros in the AL West despite a 1-8 road trip.
Starling Marte hit a walk-off three-run homer off Fernando Rodney in the bottom of the 13th inning to give the Pittsburgh Pirates a 5-3 victory on Sunday afternoon at PNC Park.
This marked the second Sunday in a row in which the Oakland bullpen blew a lead in extra innings. Last week, Blake Treinen gave up four runs in the bottom of the 11th to the Toronto Blue Jays.
A week later, Rodney couldn’t protect a 3-1 lead against the Pirates. Rodney allowed a one-out single to Cole Tucker, walked Jung Ho Kang despite getting ahead 0-2, an RBI single to Adam Frazier and the game-winner to Marte.
All three hits Rodney allowed in the 13th inning came off first-pitch fastballs right down the middle. (Diagram courtesy of MLB)
The Oakland bullpen had retired 14 batters in a row before the 13th inning meltdown.
Tyler Lyons picked up the win. He allowed two runs on in two innings. Rodney suffered his second loss.
The Pirates got on the scoreboard first in the second inning. Josh Bell led off with a double to the gap in left center. Bell advanced to third on a groundout by Melky Cabrera and scored on a sacrifice fly by Colin Moran.
Khris Davis was replaced defensively in the bottom half with a left hip contusion after reaching into the stands for a sensational catch in the opening inning. His hip made hard contact with the side wall on the follow-through and was in obvious pain.
Jordan Lyles started for Pittsburgh and allowed just three hits and two walks in the first 6.2 innings. But Oakland finally broke through with a two-out rally in the seventh.
Nick Hundley doubled down the left field line and scored the tying run on Robbie Grossman’s pinch-hit opposite field single.
Frankie Montas started for Oakland and earned a well deserved no decision. The 26-year-old allowed one run on five hits, walked none and struck out five in six innings. Montas threw 58 of 90 pitches (64.4%) for strikes.
The most stressful inning for Montas came in his final inning when the Pirates put runners on first and third with no outs with the heart of the order due up.
But Gregory Polanco flew out to Ramon Laureano, Bell struck out and Melky Cabrera lined out. Laureano’s reputation forced the Pirates to hold the runner at third twice.
The A’s got two innings each from Lou Trivino and Joakim Soria and an inning each from Ryan Buchter and Yusmeiro Petit.
Lyons was pitching his second inning in the 13th when he issued leadoff walks to Laureano and Chapman.
After Chad Pinder grounded into a force out, Kendrys Morales drove in Laureano with a bloop single into center. Stephen Piscotty drove in Chapman on the next pitch with a double off the out-of-town scoreboard in right.
With Petit on deck, the Pirates walked Jurickson Profar intentionally to load the bases. Then Oakland got unlucky.
Petit grounded sharply up the middle. The ball hit Lyons and caromed to Kang at third. Kang stepped on the bag for a force out and threw to first for a 1-5-3 double play.
The unlucky bounce was a prelude to what was about to come in the bottom half.
The A’s will get a day off before starting a six-game homestand on Tuesday night against the Cincinnati Reds.
WP: Tyler Lyons (1-0, 9.00)
LP: Fernando Rodney (0-2, 8.78)