An early pitchers’ duel turned into a bullpen battle in extra innings, but Kurt Suzuki’s second homer of the day propelled the Braves to 12-inning, 4-3 win over the A’s Sunday afternoon, completing a series sweep at the Coliseum.
Against his old team, Suzuki went to nearly the same spot with both his homers, including the game-winning shot in the 12th off A’s reliever John Axford. It’s just the third career multi-homer game for the catcher.
“I told him yesterday, ‘I’ve got to break you out or these people around here are going to kill me,'” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “It was great. It couldn’t happen to a better guy. It’s nice to see when good things happen to the good guys.”
Each team scored once in the 11th. The Braves tallied their run when Matt Kemp’s deep drive to the center-field wall hit off a leaping Jaycob Brugman, falling to the warning track for a go-ahead double to score Nick Markakis.
The A’s got one back in the bottom half when Bruce Maxwell hit a one-out single to right off Braves closer Jim Johnson, scoring Khris Davis. But with the bases loaded and one out, Braves All-Star Ender Inciarte made a sliding catch in center to keep A’s All-Star Yonder Alonso at third, and Johnson struck out Rajai Davis looking to end the inning.
“Obviously we had one big inning where we had a chance to win it, and we didn’t,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “We didn’t do much before that, but maximized our opportunity in one inning and couldn’t come through, and it ended up costing us.”
The Braves scored twice in the second inning, with Suzuki’s first homer leading off the inning before Inciarte added a two-out RBI double, scoring Danny Santana. It was the only damage A’s starter Sean Manaea allowed. He pitched a season-long 7 1/3 innings and gave up six hits and two walks, striking out six.
After six scoreless frames off Braves starter Julio Teheran, the A’s answered with two runs in the seventh, started off by Davis’ leadoff homer to center. After a single and two walks led to Teheran being pulled from the game, Adam Rosales hit a sacrifice fly, tying the game. Teheran finished the day with 6 1/3 innings pitched, allowing two runs on three hits and four walks, with eight strikeouts.
“Julio was really good. Really good. He was on the attack and spotting the ball up,” Snitker said. “He just lost his command there a bit in the seventh when he walked the two guys, but we put him in a tough situation there. He battled really well, it’s just a shame he couldn’t come away with something for it.”
After the Braves had already scored twice in the second inning, a Brandon Phillips two-out single to right looked like it could get Inciarte home from second base. But A’s right fielder Matt Olson fielded the ball cleanly and fired a strike home, giving catcher Maxwell just enough time to tag Inciarte out and end the inning.
After the A’s tied the game in the 11th and loaded the bases with one out, Johnson got Rosales to hit a popup to shallow center. The ball looked like it was going to fall between the outfielders and infielders, but Inciarte raced in from center and made a sliding catch 205 feet from home plate, according to Statcast™. Inciarte quickly popped up and threw home, keeping Alonso at third base.
“The last couple pitches, I moved forward a little more and a little more. If I was playing where I normally play, I don’t catch that ball,” Inciarte said.
The Braves return home for a quick two-game Interleague series against the Astros beginning at 6:35 p.m. CT on Tuesday. Young left-hander Sean Newcomb (1-2, 1.48 ERA) will take the mound coming off his first Major League win in San Diego on Wednesday, when he threw six scoreless innings and struck out eight.