"His average still isn't where he'd like it to be, but he's one of those guys you want up in that situation," manager Bob Melvin said. "He's one of those guys that's been through the wars, seems to come up big for us all the time. Gets down in the count, still gets a ball up in the zone, gets it up in the air. You always feel good about when he comes up in big situations."
Crisp wasn't alone in the effort, though -- one that proved just as significant from the offensive side as the defensive one.
In the top of the ninth, the Red Sox looked for a dose of insurance to add to their 2-1 lead, and instead they watched every ounce of momentum gained in the earlier innings -- including the eighth, which saw Yoenis Cespedes and Jonny Gomes strike out with the bases loaded to end the frame -- squashed following a pair of miscues.
With A's lefty Jerry Blevins on the mound, Ryan Kalish reached first via a single. After stealing second, he was joined on the bases by Mike Aviles, who garnered a walk. Nick Punto, expected to place a bunt down, did just that -- except it never reached the grass, instead popping into the glove of first baseman Chris Carter, who threw to Jemile Weeks at first for a pivotal double play. Kalish, the lone man on the basepaths, was soon wiped away, too, as Kurt Suzuki nailed him at third base on a steal attempt.
"I felt like I had a chance to dive and make a play, and I took the chance and made it," said Carter, whose fourth-inning fielding error led to an unearned Red Sox run that nearly cost the A's the game.
"Our defense did a heck of a job of keeping us in the game," Crisp said. "Chris made a great catch there to kind of dim their rally. To get two guys on with no outs, it makes it tough on everybody, and to be able to get that double play was huge. It's nice, because that's a great team over there."
The A's still had work to do, though.
Carter, riding high following his game-changing catch in the top half of the inning, jump-started Oakland's ninth-inning rally with a leadoff single. Pinch-hitter Cliff Pennington's one-out single put runners on first and second, and pinch-hitter Brandon Moss responded with a game-tying RBI single that Kalish bobbled in center to allow the runners to advance to second and third for Crisp.
"It really was a total team effort," Melvin said. "We kept putting pressure on. You've got to keep playing until the last out, and that's the way it was tonight."
Oakland's last-minute efforts wiped away a potential loss for Bartolo Colon, who was back on the mound after being reinstated from the disabled list. So, too, it seemed, was the lack of run support that accompanied most of the righty's starts -- he had received run support of two runs or fewer in nine of his 15 previous outings -- prior to his right oblique injury.
Following Crisp's homer off lefty Jon Lester -- his fourth of the season and sixth leadoff shot of his career -- the A's managed just three other hits against the southpaw, who fanned nine and walked just one in 6 2/3 innings.
Colon, meanwhile, offered a home run to Jarrod Saltalamacchia in the second but just four other hits thereafter, walking only one and striking out three in six innings, as Melvin played the cautionary route with the previously injured pitcher and pulled him after 87 pitches.
"I feel good about myself, and I feel good about the win," Colon said through translator Ariel Prieto. "The results were good, and I was just trying to pitch five or six innings."
The rest, it turns out, were in good hands.
"I think our mentality has gotten better toward the end of the games," Crisp said of the A's, who improved to 9-12 in one-run contests. "I know some guys or some teams, you come in 0-for after four at-bats and you think, 'I don't really want to get up,' but you don't really see that here in the dugout with these guys. When you get that vibe throughout, it's that winning mentality."