OAKLAND, Calif. — The Oakland A’s trailed 2-0 and did not have a hit entering the seventh inning against Boston Red Sox rookie Brandon Workman in the first start of his major-league career.
At that point, there was no telling if or when the A’s would ever get a hit in their final game before the All-Star break.
Then Coco Crisp led off the bottom of the seventh with an infield single, and with one out, Josh Donaldson crushed a two-run homer to left center, pulling the A’s even and ending Workman’s day.
Four innings later, Donaldson came through again. This time, he dumped a walk-off single to right field against reliever Matt Thornton with two outs in the bottom of the 11th to give Oakland a 3-2 victory.
“He was having trouble throwing the breaking ball a little bit,” Donaldson said. “He’s got a lively fastball, so I’m going to be sitting heater right there. Got one that kind of cut on me a little in. I got jammed and was able to dink one in for a hit.
“It was nice because I felt like I was swinging the bat well the entire series and kind of having a little bit of tough luck. For that to fall in right there and help us win the game is awesome.”
A’s pinch-hitter Chris Young led off the 11th with a walk against Thornton. Eric Sogard moved Young to second with a sacrifice bunt. After pinch-hitter Derek Norris worked a two-out walk, Donaldson brought Young home with the winning run.
“Any time you walk guys like that you’re putting yourself behind the eight-ball and you’re right in trouble from the get-go,” said Thornton, who was traded Friday to Boston by the Chicago White Sox and made his Red Sox debut. “Walking the leadoff batter is my number one goal not to do. This year especially, walks have really seemed to bite me in the butt.”
Workman, 24, allowed just two hits and two runs in 6 1/3 innings, striking out four, walking none and receiving no decision.
A’s right-hander Bartolo Colon, making his 400th career appearance, allowed two runs and eight hits in 6 1/3 innings.
Workman had a perfect game for 3 1/3 innings before walking John Jaso. Leading off the seventh, Crisp hit a ground ball up the middle. Second baseman Dustin Pedroia made a diving stop and a strong throw to first but couldn’t get the speedy Crisp.
Then with one out, Donaldson hit a monstrous two-run homer to left center, sending Workman’s belt-high, 3-2 fastball banging off the wall high above the fence. It was Donaldson’s 16th home run of the season.
“That’s pretty much all I got right there,” Donaldson said, laughing. “He made a mistake over the plate. I was able to hit it hard.”
No one saw this type of performance coming from Workman in his first big-league start.
In six starts for Triple-A Pawtucket, Workman went 3-1 but never allowed fewer than four hits. Workman allowed three runs and four hits in two innings of relief Wednesday at Seattle in his major-league debut.
“I wanted to work deep into the game and pitch as long as I could,” Workman said. “Not giving up any hits was great while it lasted.
“I was locating my pitches pretty well for the most part and had a lot of success with it, so it’s something I think I can continue to do and build off of for the next time.”
Workman became the first Red Sox pitcher to allow three or fewer base runners in his first major-league start since 1934 when George Hockette allowed three against the St. Louis Browns.
“He didn’t show any kind of fear for the situation,” Boston manager John Farrell said. “He was very poised, very good mound presence, good composure. I thought he had very good stuff.”
Sunday’s game turned into a battle of the bullpens after Colon and Workman departed.
Oakland’s Sean Doolittle worked 1 2/3 scoreless innings and closer Grant Balfour pitched a perfect ninth, striking out the side. Ryan Cook blanked the Red Sox in the 10th and 11th for the win
Boston’s Craig Breslow threw 1 2/3 scoreless innings and Koji Uehara followed with two scoreless innings, striking out the side in the ninth.
Cook walked two batters and hit another in the top of the 11th but survived a bases-loaded jam, striking out Brock Holt to end the inning after a meeting on the mound with pitching coach Curt Young.
“I felt pretty good today. I just kind of got out of sync for a minute,” Cook said. “He just kind of settled me down and said, ‘You’re all right, keep making pitches. We’ve got a good matchup here, and you’ll be fine.’”
NOTES: Balfour was added to the American League All-Star team, taking Colon’s place on the team. Colon made the team but will be inactive after pitching Sunday. Balfour is the first Australian pitcher and second Australian player to receive an All-Star berth. … The Red Sox promoted Britton from Triple-A Pawtucket and optioned OF Jackie Bradley Jr. to Pawtucket. This marks Britton’s first promotion to the major leagues. … Red Sox OF Jonny Gomes received his third career ejection in the ninth after striking out.
On Saturday night, Oakland right-hander A.J. Griffin helped the A’s blank Boston 3-0.
Griffin threw eight shutout innings before giving way to closer Grant Balfour, who pitched a scoreless ninth for his 43rd consecutive save, an ongoing Oakland record. Griffin allowed six hits — five singles and a Napoli double — and won his third straight decision. He struck out three, walked one and improved his record to 8-6.
Red Sox left-hander Jon Lester took the loss despite a solid outing. He gave up three runs and six hits in 6 1/3 innings.
Derek Norris gave Oakland a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the fifth with a two-out home run off Lester. The A’s made it 2-0 in the sixth when Jed Lowrie walked with one out, moved to second on Josh Donaldson’s sharp single to center and scored on Yoenis Cespedes’ single to left.
The A’s increased their lead to 3-0 in the seventh. Former Red Sox outfielder Josh Reddick singled to left off Lester and moved to second when Norris walked. Reddick tagged up and advanced to third on rookie Grant Green’s flyout to right fielder Shane Victorino in foul territory.
Facing Red Sox reliever Junichi Tazawa, Coco Crisp lined an RBI single to right, bringing Reddick home.