PITTSBURGH -- The A's short-term memories got jarred but good Monday in a 2-1 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates.
And the memory prompter has a name: Coco Crisp.
Crisp, with two outs and men on first and second, did a Usain Bolt sprint from right-center to left-center to chase down a screaming liner hit by Andrew McCutchen to end the seventh inning. It was not a play most of the A's believed to be possible -- until their memories kicked in.
"I'm thinking that's a double," closer Grant Balfour said of his view of the play from the A's bullpen. "And then I thought, 'That's Coco out there.' "
A's shortstop Jed Lowrie watched the ball go shooting way above his head, and he said he said to himself, "That ball's in the gap."
"And then I remember that we've got Coco out there," Lowrie said.
The center fielder, cutting across the field and getting deeper with each stride, launched himself at the ball when failure would mean two runs would score and the game would be flipped on its axis.
Crisp's analysis: "It wasn't that difficult of a play."
Yeah, right. Crisp can generally be counted on to be understated about the things he does on a baseball field.
Even when his manager, Bob Melvin, says "that's the play of the year," Crisp counters with, "that was the play of the play," whatever that means.
It means that Crisp would be just as happy talking about anyone other than himself.
"I like to fly under the radar," Crisp said.
It was difficult to do that Monday for the simple reason that McCutchen's rocket lit up half the radar screens in the Eastern Time Zone.
"He hit that one good," Crisp said. "He can do that. He's a real good hitter."
And Crisp is a real good defender. True, he doesn't have a great arm, but when it comes to running down balls hit in the air, Crisp covers more territory than Google Earth.
The catch meant Bartolo Colon got his 12th win in his next-to-last start before the All-Star game and Balfour got his 23rd save of the season and his 41st in a row over the past two years, breaking the club record of 40 consecutive saves set by Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley.
Without the catch, none of that was possible.
"What Coco did was unbelievable," Balfour said. "That ball gets by and it's two more runs, and instead of me coming in for the save, it's their guy, Jason Grilli (National League saves leader with 28), closing it out. It was definitely a game-changer."
Colon had allowed only four hits and no runs in the first six innings, but by the time McCutchen came to the plate, the Pirates had a run in to close their deficit to 2-1, and they had men on first and second for their No. 3 hitter.
"When that ball was hit," Colon said while speaking through interpreter Ariel Prieto, "I never imagined he'd catch that ball."
The 40-year-old Dominican was so grateful that he thanked Crisp three times -- as he came off the field, again in the dugout, and later in the clubhouse.
"That's kind of cool," Crisp said of Colon's triple play of gratitude.
As Melvin said, "the game wasn't over right there," and the A's still needed to get six more outs, but the game probably would have been over, and not in a good way for the A's, if the catch wasn't made.
"The ball is in the air, and I'm thinking what my options are," Melvin said. "And then he comes up with that ball."
From the A's point of view, that's the best option of all.
"We'll see for certain on Sunday," Melvin said. "As an organization, based on his age and how much we need him, we'd like to see him get the time off. But it's up to him."
The winning run scored when Derek Norris walked with the bases loaded in the seventh against Locke (8-2).
Straily 5-2) at Pittsburgh (Gerrit Cole 4-1), 4:05 p.m. CSNCA