Madson secures two-frame save despite Giants scoring three runs
By Mark Chiarelli
SAN FRANCISCO -- A's closer Ryan Madson briefly paused, pondered a 13-year career that includes two World Series championships, and categorized Tuesday's thrilling 13-11 win over the Giants as one he'll never forget.
"That was the funnest game I've been a part of in a long time," Madson said, "Maybe minus the two clinching games in the World Series. That's No. 3 probably."
Madson was a central figure in a wild final two innings that saw the two teams combine for 11 runs as he navigated a turbulent two-inning save. The A's erased an 8-5 Giants lead with a five-run rally in the top of the eighth, only to see San Francisco mount comeback bids of its own in both the eighth and ninth, with the Giants bringing the potential tying run to the plate following back-to-back homers from Jarrett Parker and Denard Span to open the final inning.
A's manager Bob Melvin called Madson's performance Herculean. Span said it "was one of the craziest games" he's ever played in. Giants manager Bruce Bochy didn't mince words when assessing his own bullpen, which allowed 10 runs, saying, "They're big boys. They have to deal with this like all of us do."
In the end, somehow, the A's were left standing behind Madson's taxed arm and an offense that didn't quit.
"Something was going to happen," Madson said. "It was just, what was going to happen? It was a battle to the end, I just felt that."
Jake Smolinski, who had just six at-bats and one start since June 19, rattled Giants reliever Javier Lopez by blasting a three-run pinch-hit homer in the eighth to give Oakland a sudden 9-8 lead. It was the first pinch-hit homer of Smolinski's career and the first hit Lopez allowed to a righty all year. Jed Lowrie then tacked on an RBI single.
"I didn't see the long ball coming, to be honest," Bochy said. "At the worst, a base hit, but he made a mistake there. What hurt is we couldn't stop it there. Then it just started piling on. At least you got a one-run game at that point, but they tacked on after that."
Madson found out with two outs in the seventh that he'd be asked to go two innings, an unenviable task for any closer, but one even more daunting considering Sean Doolittle was unavailable and Melvin wanted to avoid using Fernando Rodriguez. San Francisco promptly cut the deficit to 10-9 on an RBI single by Ramiro Pena.
"They kept fighting," Bochy said.
Oakland added three more in the ninth, led by a two-run double from Josh Phegley. Madson said he may have settled down too much, allowing two straight homers to begin the bottom of the ninth, and then walking Angel Pagan before retiring three straight Giants to close out the save.
In what ultimately turned into a battle of bullpens, the Giants couldn't support their offense, despite Brandon Crawford coming a homer short of the cycle and Conor Gillaspie going 4-for-5 with two runs. It was the first time the Giants scored 10 runs in a game and lost since Aug. 25, 2010, against the Reds.
Madson, meanwhile, threw 43 pitches, the most since he threw 45 on April 18, 2007, and allowed three runs on four hits. It was hardly a tidy performance en route to his 15th save, but he stood in front of his locker Tuesday night smiling, knowing the A's have now won five of six and taken two from their Interleague rivals.
He somehow withstood the battle. And frankly, he didn't have much of a choice.
"I was trying not to think about the whole picture; I was trying to just get one out at a time and not think about the next guy, but it was there," Madson said.
"It was a unique situation, and I couldn't help but think, 'I need to get both these innings.' It was a fun challenge, and it was something I wanted to do. As long as we won, I didn't care what happened. That was my whole goal, to win the game. How many runs I gave up, it didn't matter."
Mark Chiarelli is a reporter for MLB.com based in the Bay Area. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.