Athletics 7, Mariners 4(10)
OAKLAND, Calif. -- Brandon Moss still had remnants of a whipped-cream pie splashed across both sides of his beard in the clubhouse. When someone pointed out the smears, Moss plucked the rest from his face and licked his fingers clean.
"Last time, I didn't eat any," he said. "But this time, I ate a lot of it. I left my mouth open."
Winning sure taste better in a late September playoff race.
Moss hit a three-run homer in the 10th inning after Josh Donaldson's tying two-run shot in the ninth, and the Oakland Athletics gained ground on the first-place Texas Rangers with a stunning 7-4 win over the Seattle Mariners on Saturday.
"Epic," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "It's a pretty dramatic win, maybe as dramatic as all."
For a low-budget ballclub that has had its share of you-have-to-be-kidding-me moments this season, that's quite a statement from the manager.
After what Melvin had just witnessed, perhaps it's hard to blame him.
Moss hammered the first pitch against Pryor well over the wall in right for his 21st home run, sending Oakland (90-68) streaming out of the dugout to celebrate its major-league leading 14th walk-off win.
The A's are 2½ games back of Texas in the division and 2½ ahead of the Los Angeles Angels for the final wild card. The Angels-Rangers game Saturday in Texas was postponed by inclement weather, and the teams will play a doubleheader Sunday. Tampa Bay also is three games behind Oakland.
Oakland hosts Texas in the final three games of the season starting Monday. If the Angels lose the doubleheader and Tampa Bay falls in its finale at the Chicago White Sox, the A's could clinch at least the wild card with a win Sunday.
"Our mind is still focused on trying to go after the division," Donaldson said. "Every game out there is the biggest game of the year for us. That's the way it's been for the last month."
Considering the way the A's have played since the All-Star break, no goal seems silly anymore.
Donaldson's drive off Tom Wilhelmsen in the ninth landed just over the wall in center field for his ninth home run to start Oakland's latest rally. Grant Balfour (3-2) pitched a perfect inning to earn the win.
With each game becoming bigger than the last, the A's have shown no signs of a young team overwhelmed by the pressure.
Players tossed a football around during batting practice. Right fielder Josh Reddick even wore a camouflage shirt and punted the ball in flip-flops.
The laid-back approach carried over again -- just not right away.
Dan Straily allowed four runs, four walks and three hits in 4 1-3 innings while striking out three, though he ended up jumping over the couch in the clubhouse watching Donaldson's homer, admitting he was so excited "I have no idea how I got there." His bullpen backed him up, though, with five relievers tossing scoreless ball.
John Jaso walked leading off the second inning and took advantage of a pair of errors for Seattle's first run.
Justin Smoak grounded out to Moss, who stepped on first base and threw the ball into left field. Cespedes tried to throw out Jaso at third and instead sailed the ball into Oakland's dugout, allowing Jaso to score and give the Mariners a 1-0 lead.
"It almost hit our Purell container in the dugout. That would have bothered me," Melvin could joke later. "I use that quite often in the dugout. It just hit the water cooler. That would have been really devastating if it knocked over the Purell container. We can take a run there, we just don't want to lose that."
Cespedes singled and scored from first on Moss' single in the bottom of the inning. Cespedes was stealing second on the play, and his hesitation around third base fooled right fielder Casper Wells just enough to slide in safely and slice Seattle's lead to 4-1.
Once again, Jason Vargas quieted the A's.
He struck out seven and walked none in seven innings. The lefty is 2-1 and has allowed only 10 runs in six starts against Oakland this season.
Moss also doubled in the eighth against Wilhelmsen to score Crisp and Stephen Drew was waived home from first by third base Mike Gallego. Second baseman Dustin Ackley's relay throw from Wells in right easily got Drew out at home to end the inning and leave the possible tying run stranded at second.
Moss made a diving grab to rob pinch-hitter Jesus Montero for the final out of Seattle's ninth to save at least a run and set the stage for another thriller he would finish.
"Those guys are feeling it over there," Mariners manager Eric Wedge said. "The fans are feeling it. Obviously the players are feeling it. You can sense the excitement in the air."
NOTES: A's LHP Brett Anderson (4-2, 2.57 ERA), who strained his right oblique Sept. 19 after a strong return from last year's Tommy John surgery, played toss from 120 feet before the game. He will pitch a bullpen session as soon as Monday, and could be back if the A's make the playoffs. ... Oakland slugger Jonny Gomes received the 2012 Dave Stewart Community Service Award from the former A's pitcher during a pregame ceremony. ... Lefty Tommy Milone (13-10, 3.74 ERA) starts for Oakland opposite Mariners RHP Erasmo Ramirez (1-3, 3.42 ERA) in Sunday's series finale.
Antonio Gonzalez can be reached at: www.twitter.com/agonzalezAP
Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press
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