Bats roar late as Brewers, A's tie

MESA, Ariz. -- The Brewers and A's played to an 8-8 Cactus League tie at HoHoKam Stadium on Saturday as late homers by both teams turned the contest into a high-scoring affair.

"In a game like this it's always good for the younger guys to get a chance," A's manager Bob Melvin said.

"With us playing two games yesterday, we have a lot guys we brought over from the Minor League camp. They're getting their first outings. That's going to happen sometimes as far as giving up the late runs. But we like to see guys battle and we always tell our younger guys, 'You'll get in in the second half of the game and this is a chance to make a name for yourself.' ''

With the A's leading 7-2 entering the eighth, Milwaukee's Andy Wilkins hit a three-run homer and Alex Presley added a solo blast to bring the Brewers' within 7-6. In the ninth, Yadiel Rivera hit a two-run shot to put the Brewers up, 8-7.

But Josh Phegley hit a two-out homer in the bottom of the ninth to tie the game and account for the final margin.

"I think the fans enjoyed it," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said of the back-and-forth tussle.

On the comeback, including Rivera's go-ahead homer and Wilkins' second homer in as many days, Counsell said, "Yeah, the guys at the end put together some good at-bats. Yadiel hit a big home run. Andy Wilkins again. We fought back a little bit here today, and that's good."

The A's had scored four runs in the fifth inning. Tyler Ladendorf had a two-run single in the inning as Oakland snapped a 2-2 tie.

Jonathan Lucroy had a pair of doubles for the Brewers and Rymer Liriano added a double and triple. Liriano's double followed a Will Middlebrooks single to open the fourth inning, accounting for Milwaukee's second run.

It was the first start as a member of the A's for left-hander Rich Hill, who signed as a free agent during the offseason. Hill allowed a run on two hits and walked three. He left with on out in the second after Liriano opened the inning with the triple and scored on a Colin Walsh grounder to short.

In contrast, Brewers starter Jimmy Nelson pitched two innings of nearly flawless ball, walking one and facing just seven batters.

Hill said he wasn't particularly enamored by his performance.

"Overall I thought it was pretty poor," he said. "The thing I really need to work on is getting the ball down. So that was the biggest thing."

Up next for Brewers: Matt Garza makes his spring debut Sunday, when the Brewers host Carlos Corrasco and the Indians at Maryvale Baseball Park at 2:05 p.m. CT. Garza needs a bounceback from a miserable 2015 season in which he was 6-14 with a 5.63 ERA and lost his rotation spot in early September. The game will be webcast at Brewers.com.

Up next for A's: Oakland plays the Padres Sunday at Peoria Sports Complex in a 12:10 p.m. PT start. Right-hander Chris Bassitt gets the start as A's manager Bob Melvin continues to search for a combination at the back end of his rotation behind Sonny Gray and Hill. They'll face veteran right-hander James Shields, making his first start and appearance of the spring. Fans can watch on MLB.TV or listen on Gameday audio.

Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. Follow @boomskie on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.