Derek Norris and the A's held off Chicago 9-7
In a dual reversal of fortune for the 2012 season, the A's offense and clutch hitting was the difference. Propelled by five hits with two outs and runners in scoring position, Oakland erased an eighth-inning deficit to outslug the Chicago White Sox 9-7 Saturday night. Ryan Cook picked up the win and Grant Balfour pitched the ninth for his eighth save of the year for the A's.
Oakland erased an early 2-0 deficit with a five-run third inning. Most impressively, all the runs came with two outs. Chris Carter started the rally with a two-run single to left field scoring Coco Crisp and Josh Reddick.
After a Brandon Inge walk, Derek Norris smoked a ground-rule double to left field that scored Yoenis Cespedes and Carter making it 4-2. Adam Rosales followed with a single and just like that, it was 5-2.
In the third, the A's added on to their lead with a Reddick single to center scoring Crisp. But from there, the game resembled Friday's opener as the White Sox rallied. Tyler Flowers singled to cut the lead to 6-3 and in the bottom of the fifth, Kevin Youkilis hit a two-run home run to dead center and it was 6-5.
A's starter Travis Blackley exited the game after the fifth having allowed five runs on six hits and a walk while striking out six.
But the White Sox were not done. Against Jordan Norberto, Flowers hit a long home run to dead center to tie the game at six. Then in the bottom of the seventh, Norberto left Cook with a runner on first and one out. Cook promptly allowed singles to Alex Rios and A.J. Pierzynski and suddenly, Chicago led 7-6. Cook did induce a huge double play from White Sox shortstop Alexei Ramirez to end the inning.
The A's would take advantage in the top of the eighth. First, Jonny Gomes blasted his 13th home run off White Sox reliever Matt Thornton to tie the game at seven. Then, with runners on the corners and two outs, Inge slapped the first pitch he saw off newly inserted Brett Myers to give the A's the lead for good.
In the ninth, Gomes added an insurance RBI single and Balfour retired the White Sox in order after hitting Youkilis with a 2-2 fastball.
Now 61-52, the A's will look to win the series in the finale Sunday afternoon. The nationally broadcast matchup will pit Bartolo Colon against Chicago's impressive Chris Sale. First pitch is expected to be 11:10 a.m.