MIAMI -- Veteran left-hander Jeff Francis was the last man standing in the A's bullpen but nonetheless was asked to preserve a next-to-impossible situation in the 14th inning Saturday -- bases loaded, one out and a one-run lead.
He did it to perfection, getting a strikeout and a game-ending fly ball to close out the A's 7-6 win over the Miami Marlins.
"It's a tough situation," A's closer Sean Doolittle said of the situation Francis was presented. "You go out there knowing you can make your pitch and that a broken bat can bloop a ball into the outfield. There are so many elements that you can't control.
"For him to block it out like he did, that's as much as anybody could possibly ask."
Manager Bob Melvin had wanted Jim Johnson to finish it out if he could, Johnson had already pitched two scoreless innings, but a broken bat like the one Doolittle described and an infield single combined to get him in trouble, and a walk loaded the bases.
Melvin went to Francis, who put the manager at ease. It's supposed to work the other way around.
"He was very calm," Melvin said. "And that's not a situation he's used to pitching in."
Francis might not have been as calm as all that before striking out Jarrod Saltalamacchia and getting Donovan Solano to fly out.
"You have to at least try not to show it," said Francis, who earned his first major league save. "That situation's not one I'm used to."
You'd never have known it as he needed just six pitches to close out a game that lasted 4 hours, 47 minutes.
The A's took the lead in the 14th on a two-out Brandon Moss double and an RBI single on the first pitch to Josh Donaldson, giving them reason to celebrate once the game was in the bag. But it could prove to be a costly win.
Right fielder Josh Reddick, who just was activated from the disabled list Tuesday after three weeks dealing with a hyperextended right knee, came out of the game in the third inning with a pain he described as "maybe a little worse" than what put him on the disabled list originally.
He was setting up to throw when "I felt the pain in the side of my knee," he said.
"I've told you guys before, I'm not going to play through pain like I did before," Reddick said. "I'm not going to make it cost my team and myself. It's very frustrating to spend three weeks feeling better, then starting to feel good at the plate and now this."
Reddick will be checked out by a doctor Sunday, and while he's hoping for good news, it didn't sound as though he were expecting any. For the moment, the A's can dip into the minor leagues for an outfielder, perhaps Shane Peterson, or they could promote first baseman Nate Freiman and free Moss to play right field as he did frequently when Reddick was on the disabled list earlier.
The win elevated the A's to a 50-30 record, making Oakland the first American League team to reach 50 wins this season. The Milwaukee Brewers lead baseball with 51 wins, but the A's still have two fewer losses and thus their .625 winning percentage is baseball's best.
A's (Tommy Milone 5-3) at Miami (Andrew Heaney 0-2), 10:10 a.m. CSNCA