OAKLAND -- The A's took another step closer to the American League West title Tuesday when Josh Donaldson delivered a two-out bases-loaded single off the Los Angeles Angels' Michael Kohn, good for a 2-1 victory.
Oakland will win the division with any combination of six A's wins and Texas Rangers losses.
The victory Tuesday was an encapsulation of what the A's have done well all year -- pitch, pitch, pitch, then strike when offensive opportunity knocks.
And while it was Donaldson who delivered his third walk-off hit of the season, the plate appearance that dropped the most jaws in the A's dugout was a walk worked by Coco Crisp that loaded the bases.
"That was the at-bat of the season," said Jed Lowrie, who served as a pinch hitter in the ninth, was intentionally walked with Jemile Weeks on second base and had a front-row seat to the 10-pitch battle between Kohn and Crisp.
Kohn got two quick strikes, then Crisp began fouling off anything that was close and letting anything that wasn't close go by.
"I don't know what that was, 10, 11 pitches," right fielder Josh Reddick said, "but to lay off all those pitches and to foul off all those pitches and not strike out, that was impressive. It set up J.D. for the hit."
Crisp took it as just another day's work.
"I'm just trying to have a good at-bat there," he said.
Once he did, the Angels employed a five-man infield with Daric Barton batting with the bases loaded. It's not something you see often, and it wasn't something that was actually needed. Barton struck out, bringing up Donaldson, who was 7 for 10 with the bases loaded.
Those numbers were no help when he fell behind early in the count and had to fight his way back.
—I was just trying not to do too much," he said. I was just trying to drive the ball up the middle."
That he did, a line drive that easily cleared the infield and landed where no outfielder was within 20 feet. It was his third career walk-off, and he was mobbed at the plate, then later hit by pies -- one in each hand -- from Reddick. Later still he was doused by the contents of a Gatorade cooler.
The A's ran into a tough customer in Angels starting pitcher Garrett Richards, who dueled rookie Sonny Gray to a standoff, each allowing just one run.
Two outs into the game, Gray was behind when Mike Trout clubbed his 25th homer, a blast out over the center-field wall.
From that point on, Gray kept evading difficulty. Leadoff men reached base in the third and fourth innings, but neither scored.
Gray's only 1-2-3 inning came in the sixth, an inning highlighted by a marvelous diving catch in right-center by Reddick. The right fielder seemed to have no chance to close ground on a ball hit by Trumbo. But he did, and Gray recovered to close out the inning quickly.
Richards threw five scoreless innings in his first start of the year on July 27 at the O.co Coliseum, left with a 1-0 lead but got no decision when the A's rallied for a 3-1 win.
He was just as smooth this time around. Brandon Moss's RBI double to right scored Crisp, who had walked and taken second on a grounder, in the first inning, then settled in to force the A's to try to grind it out against him.
Lowrie came out of Sunday's game in Texas early because of some right hamstring tightness and has missed back-to-back starts.
It isn't clear that there will be enough time for Jaso to hone his game to be able to return from the disabled list this month, but at least he's waking up and not feeling any of the nausea and disorientation that accompanied most of his time on the disabled list.
W L GB
A's 89 62 --
Texas 82 68 6
of A's wins and
Rangers losses needed for Oakland to clinch the A.L. West.
L.A. Angels (Jason Vargas 8-7) at A's (A.J. Griffin 14-9), 12:35 p.m. CSNCA