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Crazy bottom of ninth ends with A's scoring game winner on error

CBS SportsLine.com wire reports
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OAKLAND, Calif. -- Moneyball at its best? Billy Beane never ordered anything quite like this.

Jay Payton took part in three crazy plays and scored the winning run when the ball went between third baseman Aubrey Huff's legs with two outs in the ninth, lifting the Oakland Athletics to a 3-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Devil Rays on Saturday.

Moments earlier, Payton stayed on second following a wild 6-4-5-6-4 double play in which Dan Johnson was forced out at second right before Payton returned to the base after taking off on Marco Scutaro's ground ball. Scutaro was headed for second, too, and became the second out when he arrived to the bag at the same time.

"Um, crazy," Payton said. "Bottom line, it was a crazy game."

This wacky finish was a far cry from the kind of baseball for which Beane, the A's innovative general manager, has earned a reputation for while in charge of Oakland: getting on base, then producing big hits and using strong pitching to win games -- all described in Moneyball, a book detailing Beane's philosophy for the small-market A's.

"I don't think this is in any textbook," A's manager Ken Macha said.

Chad Orvella (1-3) gave up Payton's single to start the ninth, then walked Johnson. Orvella was at 1-2 with Scutaro when manager Joe Maddon called for Tyler Walker. After Scutaro's play, Jason Kendall hit a routine grounder to third that Huff missed, allowing Payton to score.

Pinch-hitter Greg Norton hit a tying solo home run with one out in the eighth against Justin Duchscherer, spoiling Barry Zito's bid to win back-to-back starts for the first time this season.

"It was very Abbie-normal," Maddon said in a reference to Mel Brooks' 1974 classic comedy Young Frankenstein.

Mark Kotsay hit a go-ahead single in the fifth inning, but Duchscherer couldn't hold the lead. He started the ninth but was injured on a 1-1 pitch to Carl Crawford and left with a sore right elbow. Joe Kennedy (2-0) relieved and he too had to be checked by trainer Larry Davis at one point after taking a ball off his foot.

Kennedy stayed in the game and intentionally walked Ty Wigginton to load the bases for Travis Lee with one out. Lee struck out and Toby Hall followed with a soft liner.

Payton hit a sacrifice fly and had one of the strangest stolen bases imaginable as Oakland bounced back from a frustrating 3-1 loss Friday in which it stranded 13 baserunners, just the seventh home defeat ever for the A's against the Devil Rays.

Russell Branyan hit a solo home run in the fifth for Tampa Bay, a day after the Devil Rays ended an 11-game losing streak in Oakland -- their first win since beating Zito 9-3 on July 8, 2003.

Norton's second homer of the year kept Seth McClung from taking the loss, though the right-hander's winless stretch reached four straight starts. The Devil Rays, playing in their first West Coast road trip of the year, lost for the fifth time in six games.

Huff and Julio Lugo combined to go 0-for-8 in the second game back for both players following long stints on the disabled list.

Zito didn't make it easy for any of the hitters, getting a large number of first strikes and working efficiently all game, but missed a chance for his first home victory of 2006.

"This game is capable of showing us something new every day," Zito said. "I saw two things I'd never seen."

Payton stole his first base -- if you can truly call it that -- in a silly, second-inning play for the A's. Everybody lost track of the pitch count and Payton jogged to second when Johnson headed toward first thinking he had drawn a walk. But it was only ball three. The ball was thrown back to McClung, who glanced to the dugout and saw Maddon hold up three fingers, but by that time it was too late to make a throw and no fielders were covering second base anyway.

"It was probably the most benign stolen base in history," Maddon said.

McClung said he knew it was ball three, but it didn't hit him immediately that Payton might be going to second.

"I was sitting there kind of looking at the umpire and thinking it's three," McClung said. "And then it hit me, 'Payton is probably walking down to second.' I looked and he was."

Johnson did walk moments later and Scutaro also drew a free pass, but Kendall grounded into a fielder's choice to end the threat.

Notes

  • It was Payton's first stolen base in the AL. He hadn't had one since 2004 with San Diego.
  • Tampa Bay fell to 0-7 against left-handed starters this season.
  • Nick Swisher's first-inning double extended his streak for safely reaching base to 25 games.
  • Devil Rays DH Jonny Gomes, a San Francisco native who grew up about an hour north of Oakland in Petaluma, will have more than 200 fans from his hometown in the stands Sunday -- in a section to be called "Gomes Zone." This weekend is his first time playing back in the Bay Area as a major leaguer.
  • McClung made his first career start against the A's.
 
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
 
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Jay Payton slides safely into second, but Marco Scutaro is called out when he hits the bag.  (AP)
Jay Payton slides safely into second, but Marco Scutaro is called out when he hits the bag. (AP)

Tampa Bay Devil Rays
Julio Lugo, SS4000011 .273
Carl Crawford, LF4020000 .267
Jonny Gomes, DH3010111 .294
Aubrey Huff, 3B4000001 .167
Ty Wigginton, 2B3010100 .268
Travis Lee, 1B4000024 .202
Russell Branyan, RF3111000 .174
    Toby Hall, C1000003 .326
Josh Paul, C2010000 .250
   a- Greg Norton, PH1111000 .200
    Damon Hollins, RF0000000 .262
Joey Gathright, CF2000110 .193
Totals312723510 
a-homered for Paul in the 8th
Batting
2B - Carl Crawford (4, Kennedy)
HR - Russell Branyan (2, Zito), Greg Norton (2, Duchscherer)
RBI - Russell Branyan (8), Greg Norton (2)
2-OUT RBI - Russell Branyan (2)
Team LOB - 5
Fielding
Outfield Assists - Russell Branyan 1
DP - Wigginton-Lugo-Lee, Lugo-Wigginton-Huff
E - Aubrey Huff (1, )
Tampa Bay Devil Rays
Seth McClung 6.1822320 6.81
Brian Meadows 0.2000010 5.91
Chad Orvella (L,1-3) 1110110 3.86
Tyler Walker 0.2000000 13.97
Pitches-Strikes - Seth McClung 108-67, Brian Meadows 7-6, Chad Orvella 23-15, Tyler Walker 8-6
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Seth McClung 10-5, Brian Meadows 1-0, Chad Orvella 2-0, Tyler Walker 2-0
Batters Faced - Seth McClung 28, Brian Meadows 2, Chad Orvella 5, Tyler Walker 2
Oakland Athletics
Jason Kendall, C4110103 .253
Nick Swisher, LF4010012 .327
Mark Kotsay, CF4021002 .266
Eric Chavez, 3B4010003 .314
Bobby Crosby, SS4110001 .220
Adam Melhuse, DH4010020 .280
Jay Payton, RF3121000 .217
Dan Johnson, 1B2000211 .173
Marco Scutaro, 2B3000101 .200
Totals323924413 
Batting
2B - Jason Kendall (4, McClung), Nick Swisher (9, McClung), Adam Melhuse (2, McClung)
SF - Jay Payton (1)
RBI - Mark Kotsay (12), Jay Payton (3)
SB - Jay Payton (1, 2nd base off McClung/Paul)
Team LOB - 8
Fielding
DP - Chavez-Scutaro-Johnson, Zito-Scutaro-Johnson, Chavez-Scutaro-Johnson
Oakland Athletics
Barry Zito 7511131 4.07
Justin Duchscherer (BS,2) 1111011 2.20
Joe Kennedy (W,2-0) 1100210 2.38
IBB - Gomes by Joe Kennedy, by Wigginton
Pitches-Strikes - Barry Zito 112-67, Justin Duchscherer 9-6, Joe Kennedy 24-10
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Barry Zito 8-7, Justin Duchscherer 1-1, Joe Kennedy 1-1
Batters Faced - Barry Zito 24, Justin Duchscherer 4, Joe Kennedy 6
Game Information
Attendance - 25080
Game Time - 2:42
Temperature - 59
Umpires - Home - Brian O'Nora, First Base - Phil Cuzzi, Second Base - Jerry Crawford, Third Base - Chuck Meriwether