Shohei Ohtani struck out 10 but went winless in consecutive starts on the mound for the first time since June, and the Oakland Athletics rebounded from a bullpen meltdown to beat the Los Angeles Angels 3-2 in 10 innings Sunday.
Jed Lowie hit a go-ahead sacrifice fly in the 10th off Raisel Iglesias (7-5), and Oakland won its fifth straight to remain within two games of Toronto for the second AL wild card. The A’s closed within a half-game of the New York Yankees.
Oakland will finish with a winning record in four straight years for the first time since 1999-2006. The A’s completed a three-game sweep and went 15-4 against the Angels, their most wins against them in a season.
“It’s demoralizing to give up the lead,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “You have to go back out there and work for it again and they did. It doesn’t surprise me.”
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Ohtani, a two-way sensation, allowed two runs and five hits in eight innings with three walks. He tied a season high for strikeouts, reaching double digits for the first time since June 4.
Yan Gomes’ second-inning home run and Matt Chapman’s drive in the fourth built a 2-0 lead against Ohtani, who has allowed 14 home runs this season.
Oakland loaded the bases with one out in the eighth on two walks and hit batter. As the crowd backed Ohtani with chants of “M-V-P!” Jed Lowrie popped out and Chapman struck out.
With two pitching starts possible over the remainder of the season, Ohtani is 9-2 with a 3.28 ERA and 146 strikeouts in 123 1/3 innings along with 44 walks.
“He has a great feel for what he’s doing out there and makes adjustments constantly,” Angels manager Joe Maddon said. “But the biggest difference from when I saw him first last year to now is overall command of his pitches — all of them, but primarily the fastball.”
Ohtani was 0 for 2 with two walks — one intentional — at the plate while batting second. He is hitting .257 with 44 homers and 94 RBIs, third in home runs behind Toronto’s Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (46) and Kansas City’s Salvador Perez (45).
Asked about his motivation as the season draws to a close, Ohtani did not mention the MVP race.
“I need to keep on throwing, and every time I throw I learn something and I’m getting better,” Ohtani said through a translator. “I want to be pitching next year and beyond so this whole experience from this year is going to help me down the road.
“It’s been hard to keep the motivation up being out of the playoff race like this,” he said.
Jose Rojas tied the score in the ninth off Sergio Romo, who blew a save for the fourth time in seven chances. Rojas singled in a run, and a second run scored when right fielder Seth Brown bobbled the ball and then threw the ball to the backstop for an error.
Lou Trivino (6-7) relieved with a runner on second, threw called third strikes past Max Stassi and Jack Mayfield, then got three straight outs to strand the pandemic-rules automatic runner in the 10th.
A’s starter Frankie Montas gave up one hit over seven scoreless innings, Brandon Marsh’s double in the third.
“When you go up against Ohtani, you know you have to be really good, and he was,” Melvin said of Montas. “He matched him all the way until both were out of the game and out-pitched him really.”
Chapman has 12th home runs in his last 27 games, increasing his season total to 26. Gomes’ homer was his 14th, his fifth since Oakland acquired him from Washington on July 30.
Maddon said he doubted three-time AL MVP Mike Trout will return this season from a strained right calf sustained May 17.
“There is not a lot that he’s doing right now,” Maddon said.
Trout’s offseason workout program is not expected to be affected, Maddon said.
Athletics: RHP Chris Bassitt had no side effects from a simulated game Saturday and may throw a bullpen session Monday. Bassitt has not pitched since Aug. 17 after he was hit by a line drive.
Angels: After throwing to batters on Saturday, LHP Austin Warren is on the path to being activated as early as Monday. LHP Reid Detmers will likely need another throwing session before he returns. Both pitchers are on the COVID-related IL.
A’s: Open a four-game series at home against Seattle on Monday with LHP Sean Manaea (10-9, 3.95 ERA) scheduled to take the mound.
Angels: RHP Jaime Barria (2-3, 4.93) is scheduled to start Monday against Houston as a four-game series opens.