BALTIMORE -- In the long run, it wasn't Darren O'Day who was responsible for Coco Crisp's game-winning homer for the A's in the ninth inning Saturday.

It was Fieldin Culbreth. The home plate umpire called O'Day's 3-0 pitch to Crisp a strike. Crisp backed up a step, froze in his tracks, flipped his bat, caught it, took a moment to regroup, then stepped in and hit O'Day's next pitch for a tiebreaking homer in a 2-1 Oakland win.

"I tried to bunt, then I tried to walk," Crisp said, "but I stayed in the at-bat."

His focus obviously clear on the 3-1 pitch, Crisp drove his 13th homer over the right field scoreboard as the A's took their only lead of the game. It was, with Grant Balfour closing things out for Jarrod Parker, the only lead Oakland would need.

Oakland Athletics starting pitcher Jarrod Parker delivers against the Baltimore Orioles in the first inning of a baseball game, Saturday, Aug. 24, 2013 in
Oakland Athletics starting pitcher Jarrod Parker delivers against the Baltimore Orioles in the first inning of a baseball game, Saturday, Aug. 24, 2013 in Baltimore. ((AP Photo/Gail Burton))

It was the third homer in three games for Crisp, who put on a little show in the batter's box before leaving to touch all the bases.

"It was a little excessive," Crisp admitted. "After I hit it, there was a little anger. Not at the other side or any person, but in a human call. I'm not one to do that, so I have to make sure I don't do that again."

The A's would be perfectly fine with another game-winning homer or five down the stretch from Crisp, regardless how much peripheral emotion there is. Oakland's offense runs best when Crisp is clicking as the leadoff man.


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He's scored five runs and has six hits and a walk in his last three games. What that means is that the men batting behind him have someone to drive it. And while producing runs with men in scoring position has been a sore spot for the A's in recent weeks, the more situations like that Oakland is in, the better the chances to get things right.

And the A's need to get things right. If Oakland had lost Saturday, it would have entered Sunday with a chance for the Orioles to move into a tie with the A's in the American League wild-card race. And while the A's focus continues to be a second consecutive A.L. West title, any path to the playoffs is, ultimately, an acceptable path.

Now the A's have a chance to take a series victory if they can win Sunday, and that could help turn around what has been a month of struggles for the club. Oakland averaged 15 wins for the first four months of the season, but August has been a nightmare. The A's are 9-11 with seven games left before September, and it's against some of baseball's best teams -- the Orioles, the Tigers and the Rays, all of whom are playoff hungry.

And Crisp, who is feeling much improved after having sat out for a week following a cortisone injection in his wrist, is one of those who has the ability to lead the way for a struggling offense.

"Coco, once he gets swinging, we're going to start to follow him along," manager Bob Melvin said.

He's seen it before. Crisp scored 28 runs in his final 35 starts for the A's last year, one reason Oakland was able to chase down Texas for the A.L. West title.

Crisp credits the sudden outbreak of home run production to the cortisone. It took awhile for his left wrist to settle down, but settle down it has.

"Before the shot, I was struggling for a month and a half," Crisp said of being able to swing without pain. "It's pretty much the difference between night and day."

Crisp isn't the only hitter in Oakland's lineup who needs to kick it up a notch, as Saturday's total of four hits suggests. Three of Oakland's last four wins have come with the A's scoring three or fewer runs, and two of those have been 2-1 decisions with Parker pitching great baseball, as he did Saturday.

Last Monday against Seattle, Parker took a 1-1 game through nine innings, then got the win when Brandon Moss delivered a walk-off homer.

"Winning 2-1 games is a lot better than losing 2-1 games," Parker, now 10-6, said. He's won eight straight decisions and is undefeated in his last 16 starts dating to May 22, matching the club record set by Dan Haren.

  • The A's will see Bartolo Colon on Monday. The right-hander, on the disabled list with a groin injury, will rejoin the club in Detroit and throw a bullpen session that day. Depending on how it goes, Colon could come off the disabled list and start in Thursday's finale against the Tigers.

  • Brett Anderson also will be joining the club in Motown. Anderson has made a couple of short injury rehabilitation starts as he attempts to come back from a sprained right ankle and stress fracture of the right foot that have kept him out of action since April. There is no determination if Anderson will be activated or if he needs more minor league work.

  • Josh Reddick was back in the lineup in right field Saturday for the first time since hurting his right wrist again Wednesday making a diving catch. Reddick told Melvin he was ready to play Friday after being checked out by the club's medical crew, but the manager held off. "You like to give players one extra day after they say they're ready," he said.

    For more on the A's, see John Hickey's Insider at blogs.ibabuzz.com/athletics. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/JHickey3.

    SUNDAY'S GAME

    A's (Sonny Gray 1-1)
    at Baltimore (Scott Feldman 3-3), 10:35 a.m. CSNCA


    HOT AUGUST STARTS

    A's starter Jarrod Parker (shown), who hasn't had a loss since May 22, earned his 10th win of the season Saturday while recording his eighth consecutive winning decision. The right-hander has been especially dominant in five August starts, going 4-0 with a 1.93 ERA. Here's a look at his August starts:
    Date Opp. Result Dec. IP H ER BB SO ERA

    Aug. 3 TEX W, 4-2 W 6 6 2 2 6 4.02
    Aug. 9 @TOR W, 14-6 W 6 6 3 1 6 4.04
    Aug. 14 HOU L, 2-1 ND 8.1 8 1 1 6 3.87
    Aug. 19 SEA W, 2-1 W 9 8 1 0 8 3.71
    Saturday @BAL W, 2-1 W 8 5 1 3 5 3.58
    August totals Record: 4-0 37.1 33 8 7 31 1.93
    Season totals Record: 10-6 163.1 141 65 54 115 3.58