OAKLAND -- Since Josh Donaldson's lengthy offensive struggles began in Baltimore six weeks ago with the Manny Machado series, Friday night's walk-off homer against the Orioles might have brought him full circle.

With the A's down by two runs in the ninth, Donaldson tied into the first pitch he saw from Orioles lefty Zach Britton and crushed a three-run homer, good for a 5-4 victory to start the second half of the season.

There was more than a little irony in the fact that the O's were in front because Machado, who took Donaldson's tag on June 6 and turned it into a cause célèbre, had hit the two-run homer that had Baltimore perched for a win.

"I try not to think about anything like that," Donaldson said of the benches-clearing incident of six weeks past. "It's just one of those things where tonight we're out there doing what we need to do. We don't need other extracurricular stuff."

So what did he think about? The way his average, at .280 the last time he saw the Orioles, was now under .240? The way hitting the ball hard in recent weeks wasn't producing results? Nope. He said he made it simpler than that.

He was facing Britton, a lefty with as good a sinker as any southpaw in the game today. With men on first and third and the A's down two, Donaldson said the situation spoke for itself. Double plays need not apply.


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"He gets lots of double plays," he said of Britton. "I don't necessarily want to change my swing. I was thinking how to overcome that (sinker). I was trying to allow the ball to get there and hit the ball where it's going to go up and not something that's going to be a low line drive or a ground ball."

Britton came across with a first-pitch strike, a ball on the inside half of the plate and down. It went up. It kept rising and cleared the center field fence.

"It could have been a double play," Donaldson said. "But that's also where my power is."

It was his 21st homer.

For 2 hours, 29 minutes, this game had been all drama. For the last 60 seconds or so, it turned into Rio at Carnival. Donaldson circled the bases, then went into the A's tunnel with players lining both sides of the third base line to usher him home. After that it was time to get a pie in the face and get bathed in the residue of the Gatorade bucket.

The Coliseum crowd went just a little nuts. Where the booing of Machado had been the sound du jour, it was replaced by the decades-old rhythms of "Celebration" from Kool and the Gang.

It's a scenario not unknown to the A's. They have seven walk-off wins this season, two of them courtesy of Donaldson. Oakland, the first team to 60 wins in the big leagues this season, got its groove back with one swing.

It's been a weird week for Donaldson, a first-time All-Star whose biggest surprise about going to join the best of the best was "how little free time I'd have." He took part in the Home Run Derby, losing a "swing-off" to teammate Yoenis Cespedes in being eliminated from the competition after hitting just four homers and taking just 14 swings.

He'd been warned that the derby can wreck a guy's swing, "but maybe I didn't have enough swings."

Donaldson said being in the derby helped to keep him working on refining his swing, and it paid off in the bottom of the ninth, a time when manager Bob Melvin said "he likes those kinds of situations."

  • Right fielder Josh Reddick will remain on the disabled list (strained right knee) through at least the weekend. Reddick, who hit a game-tying three-run homer with two outs in the ninth Friday for Stockton, will play minor league games with the Class-A Ports through Sunday, then the A's will see where he stands. He's been on the disabled list since June 29.

  • Center fielder Coco Crisp got the start Friday, but he's not free of the neck pain that sidelined him the final four games before the All-Star break and limited him to 10 starts in the final 17 games of the half. "He's a little better," Melvin said. "But he's still day to day. He feels pretty good today."

  • Starter Jeff Samardzija is 1-1 with a 3.27 ERA since coming to the A's from the Cubs, after Friday's no-decision in which he allowed two two-run homers.

  • Derek Norris hit a game-tying solo homer in the fifth inning. It was his ninth homer, matching his career best of last year.

    Saturday's game
    Baltimore (Wei-Yin Chen 9-3) at A's (Jason Hammel 8-6), 6:05 p.m. CSNCA