Ellis' first career walk-off lifts A's to fourth straight win
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- Mark Ellis watched his ball nick the foul pole and thought back to a game-winning homer Marco Scutaro hit last year off Mariano Rivera that went nearly to the same spot.
He hit the first game-winning homer of his career Wednesday with two outs in the 10th inning, lifting the Oakland Athletics to a 6-5 victory over the Baltimore Orioles for a three-game sweep and their fourth straight victory.
"It's neat. It's a cool thing, something you can play your whole career and not do," Ellis said. "It's fun to run around the bases and see your teammates at home plate. ... It feels good to contribute. It was a pretty bad slump."
Ellis connected on a 1-0 pitch from loser Lance Cormier (0-1), a solo shot that hit the left-field foul pole and stayed fair. Ellis, batting seventh in Oakland's order for the second straight day, was in an 0-for-17 funk -- after career-worst 0-for-18 stretch earlier this season -- before he singled with two outs in the sixth. The home run was his third this year.
"He's swung the bat well most of the season and he went into a little bit of a drought the last six, seven, eight days," manager Bob Geren said. "You know that sooner or later he's going to come out of it. I couldn't think of a better time. That was a real big hit right there."
Dallas Braden (1-0) pitched 2 1/3 innings for the victory, and the A's sent Baltimore to its season-worst fifth straight defeat. Oakland moved to a season-best eight games over .500 at 22-14.
Baltimore's Melvin Mora hit a go-ahead double in the eighth as the A's bullpen blew it for starter Joe Blanton, but pinch-hitter Frank Thomas delivered a tying RBI groundout in the bottom half while Jack Hannahan made a hard slide into second to avoid getting doubled up on the play.
"He won us that game today with that slide," Ellis said. "Not a lot of people are going to remember Hannahan breaking up that double play."
Brian Roberts singled in two of the Orioles' three runs in the eighth off Andrew Brown, who had allowed only one run over his first 15 appearances of the season for a 0.52 ERA.
The Orioles have lost seven of eight and have played seven straight games decided by two or fewer runs.
"Any time the games are close you feel like you're in it," Cormier said. "Then all of a sudden stuff like this happens and it's just a huge letdown, especially after it's happened over and over again."
Blanton's fortunes at home have been nearly as bad. The right-hander, who made his majors-leading ninth start, is 0-5 with a 1.74 ERA in seven starts at home in the Coliseum this year but seemed poised to break out of that against struggling Baltimore.
Kurt Suzuki hit a two-run homer for his first longball of the year, following Ryan Sweeney's leadoff triple in the fifth with a shot into the left-field seats. Hannahan doubled in a key insurance run in the bottom of the sixth.
Blanton allowed leadoff hits in the first, second, fourth, fifth and sixth innings but found ways to get out of trouble until the sixth.
He helped turn a key double play in the second. Luke Scott led off the inning with a double and Kevin Millar followed with a single before Jay Payton lined one to the pitcher and Blanton threw Scott out at third. Blanton then retired former Oakland catcher Ramon Hernandez on a called third strike.
Baltimore loaded the bases in the fourth after Millar and Payton drew consecutive two-out walks, but after pitching coach Curt Young visited the mound, Blanton got Hernandez to ground out to end the threat.
Blanton was just pleased his team pulled this one out -- Oakland's second extra-innings win of the series after winning Monday's opener 2-1 in 10 innings.
"It's good to see us not just accept two out of three and go out and get the sweep," Blanton said.
Baltimore's Aubrey Huff went 0-for-5 to end his 10-game hitting streak.
Orioles starter Jeremy Guthrie, a former Stanford pitcher, matched his season high with six strikeouts for the second straight start. Guthrie was tagged for four runs on five hits in 5 2/3 innings and walked three.
The Orioles are 1-5 so far on a 10-game road trip that concludes with four games in Kansas City starting Thursday.
Brown and George Sherrill each blew their first save chance. ... The A's have gone a season-best five straight games without an error. ... Oakland's Donnie Murphy made his major-league debut in the outfield after playing one game there last year for Triple-A Sacramento. ... Thomas got the day off from starting at DH and Mike Sweeney played in his place, getting two base hits while batting third. ... The Orioles have lost three straight series. ... Oakland right-hander Keith Foulke, on the 15-day disabled list with neck stiffness, pitched two innings of relief in a rehab outing for Class A Stockton. He allowed two hits, one earned run, struck out one and didn't walk a batter. Foulke gave up a home run among his 21 pitches, 11 of which were strikes.
OAK Wins 3-0
- Home Plate Umpire - Joe West
- First Base Umpire - Ed Rapuano
- Second Base Umpire - Ed Hickox
- Third Base Umpire - C.B. Bucknor