BALTIMORE -- A game that could have had its focus on an odd tag play early on instead evolved into an explanation as to why the A's are 38-23 and owners of the best record in the American League.

A yelling match in the third inning between Orioles third baseman Manny Machado and A's third baseman Josh Donaldson emptied the benches and seemed to be the story of the game. Over time, that storyline was left in the dust as the A's pulled out an 11-inning, 4-3 win over Baltimore.

Oakland's roster depth came into play time and again, ultimately with catchers John Jaso and Stephen Vogt contributing 11th-inning pinch hits that gave the A's the win. Jaso stretched a single into a double, forced an error while running to third on a grounder from Alberto Callaspo, then scored on Vogt's pinch-hit single.

"Part of the way this team is set up is versatility," manager Bob Melvin said. "We have a lot of in-game options."

To even get to the 11th, Brandon Moss had to throw out a runner at the plate for the second out of the 10th inning with catcher Derek Norris slapping a tag on Nick Markakis. And reliever Fernando Abad and Norris had to be alert enough to thwart Nelson Cruz's effort to steal home later that inning.

And to get to extra innings, Coco Crisp, who started the game on the bench, had to draw a four-pitch walk as a pinch-hitter, steal second, then score on Yoenis Cespedes' two-out double in the eighth to tie the game.


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"Coco was a serious game-changer when he came in there with the walk and the stolen base," Melvin said. "Jaso got a big hit after Norris had a big hit, then using Vogt there at the end. He's a grinder. It's not easy to pinch-hit. There were a lot of contributions across the board."

Jaso, pinch-hitting for Norris, opened the 11th with a risky dash to second base where he was barely safe on a hustle double that swung the game's momentum in the A's favor.

"We kept our catcher power going strong with Dino (Norris) getting that homer early and Vogt getting the hit to win it," Jaso said.

The Orioles had one man caught trying to stretch a single into a double and two men out at the plate. The A's, on the other hand, had Jaso safe, but barely, to set up the winner.

"I told (the dugout) I unhooked the trailer," Jaso said of his burst of speed. "Sometimes it doesn't work out, but I know getting into scoring position with none out is a huge thing."

It was because it gave Vogt a chance to star. He did, then Sean Doolittle struck out the side in the bottom of the 11th to close it out.

The A's weren't prepared for Machado to jump up screaming after Donaldson tagged him for the final out of the third. Benches emptied, but not much happened beyond that. Machado would homer later to give the Orioles the lead, and Baltimore starter Wei-Yin Chen threw inside to Donaldson twice in the sixth inning, hitting him the second time.

Machado, who was hurt last year while running the bases, implied that Donaldson had tagged him too hard, saying, "I think he could have done a little better job with it."

Donaldson said: "I've got nothing against the kid. I was just trying to do my job."

  • Jim Johnson was the focus of much of the pregame, this being the reliever's return to the place where he had back-to-back 50-save seasons. He's lost his job as the A's closer and is now just another reliever in the Oakland bullpen, one who gets booed in Oakland, although, he says, it's not as bad as all that.

    "Despite not pitching well, I've gotten a lot of support from the fans out in the bullpen," Johnson said. "They are good fans, there's no malice behind it. They just want to win."

  • Crisp (neck pain) was out of the lineup Friday. He hasn't missed a start against a right-hander since May 14 and has not made a start against any of the last three lefties the A's have seen, but Melvin said it's not a platoon situation. After his walk as a pinch-hitter, he doubled in the 10th and now has a 10-game hitting streak.

  • With Donaldson and Norris going deep, the A's have homered in a season-best 14 consecutive games, a total of 25 homers in that span.

  • The A's made a cash deal for one of their own Friday, bringing back left-handed pitcher Justin Marks. Marks, optioned to Triple-A Sacramento, was the A's third-round pick in the June 2009 draft. To make room on the 40-man roster, Oakland designated outfielder Kent Mathes for assignment. The club now has 10 days to trade Mathes, release him or, if he clears waivers, re-sign him to a minor league deal.

    For more on the A's, see John Hickey's Inside the A's blog at ibabuzz.com/athletics. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/JHickey3.

    SATURDAY'S GAME
    A's (Sonny Gray 6-1) at Baltimore (Kevin Gausman 0-1),
    4:15 p.m. Fox