OAKLAND, California (Ticker) -- The Oakland Athletics continue
to give a new meaning to the word "dramatic."
After being the first team in 26 years to squander an 11-run
lead, pinch hitter Scott Hatteberg's home run with one out in
the ninth inning gave the Athletics a 12-11 triumph over the
Kansas City Royals.
It was Oakland's third consecutive walk-off win and 20th
straight victory - the longest success streak in 67 years.
Oakland erupted for six runs in the first inning, extended its
lead to 11-0 after three frames and seemingly was well on its
way to breaking the American League record for consecutive wins.
But Kansas City did the unthinkable, scoring five times in the
fourth and eighth innings before knotting the contest with two
outs in the ninth against closer Billy Koch.
The last team that failed to hold an 11-run lead was the Chicago
Cubs, who ultimately dropped an 18-16 decision to Philadelphia
on April 17, 1976.
After Miguel Tejada launched a three-run walk-off homer on
Sunday and slapped the game-winning single in the bottom of the
ninth Monday, Oakland was in search of a new hero. With one out
and rookie Eric Byrnes due up, manager Art Howe called upon
Hatteberg, who lined a 1-0 offering from Jason Grimsley (3-6)
into the seats in right-center field.
"Grimsley throws so hard and he throws that sinker," Hatteberg
said. "All I thought was 'I want to make contact, try and get a
double and get in scoring position.' I get a ball and then
this pitch is thrown and I hit it. At first, I didn't think it
was going to go out, but it did. This is like an outer-body
experience for me right now."
It was the fifth walk-off homer of the season for Oakland and
third by a pinch hitter.
"This wasn't one of our normal type of wins," Oakland manager
Art Howe said. "It took everything we could muster to get it
done, but we did. I'm glad we had an off day yesterday. If
they were back-to-back-to-back, they would have had to cart me
out on something. I know it was a record-breaker, but I don't
want to watch this one on film."
The win extended the Athletics' winning streak to 20 games, the
third-longest in major league history since 1900. Oakland is
one win away from tying the 1935 Cubs and six away from the 1916
New York Giants, who captured 26 in a row with a tie along the
"This win streak is like a fairy tale," Hatteberg said. "A huge
crowd cheering you every step of the way. The win streak just
keeps bonding us together. We're getting so tight in here."
"Yes, it is a fairy tale," Koch added. "There aren't many words
that can describe this. It's just so unbelievable."
The game was played in front of a crowd of 55,528, the largest
ever to attend a regular season game at Network Associates
"The atmosphere here with the crowd made it like a playoff
game," Kansas City interim manager Tony Pena said. "And we
played it like it was one. By the end of the game, everyone on
the team was standing on the top step yelling and screaming."
Koch (9-2) gained his third win in as many games despite
allowing a run and two hits in one inning for his sixth blown
"I'm really upset with myself for giving up that run and costing
Timmy (Hudson) the win," Koch said. "I can live with the blown
save. (Kansas City) just won't buckle under. It was amazing.
It was a totally fun game out there, even though we almost lost
it. You have to say they never gave up and never quit.
They're a lot better team than people believe they are."
The Athletics jumped all over Kansas City starter Paul Byrd, who
surrendered six runs and six hits in just one inning, his
shortest outing of the season. Ray Durham opened the first with
a triple and scored on a single by John Mabry, who went 2-for-5
to improve his lifetime average against the Royals to .383
Eric Chavez plated Mabry with a single and Tejada, who was hit
by a pitch, scored when left fielder Raul Ibanez misplayed the
ball for an error. Jermaine Dye followed with an RBI triple and
Mark Ellis lifted a sacrifice fly before Ramon Hernandez
smacked a run-scoring double to deep right-center to cap the
"I thought they had an insurmountable lead," Byrd said. "It's
sad I dropped the ball by giving up all those runs out there. I
lost the game for us tonight. They didn't lose out there, I
lost. All I needed to get out of that inning was a screaming
line drive to someone to break their momentum, but I didn't get
one. My game is location and I didn't have it. Without that,
my variety of pitches didn't matter."
"Paul just didn't have it tonight, so I took him out after the
first because I wasn't going to let him die out there," Pena
Mabry belted a solo homer off reliever Darrell May in the
second, his first off a lefthander since 1996, to give Oakland a
The Athletics, who improved to a major league-best 38-13 since
the All-Star break, were at it again in the third, plating four
runs to open an eleven-run cushion.
David Justice hit a leadoff double and scored on Ellis' single.
After Terrence Long walked, Hernandez stroked an RBI double to
deep right-center to plate Ellis. Two outs later, Chavez, who
extended his hitting streak to 12 games in the first, slapped a
two-run single to right-center for an 11-0 advantage.
Kansas City chipped away in the fourth, scoring five times to
cut the deficit to six runs.
With the bases loaded and one out, Dee Brown hit a two-run
single and Neifi Perez followed with an RBI single to center.
After Luis Ordaz flied out, Michael Tucker stroked a two-run
double to left off Oakland starter Hudson.
Hudson, who has not lost in eight starts since July 24, yielded
five runs - two earned - and 11 hits in 6 2/3 innings, striking
out six without a walk.
In the eighth, the Royals drew within 11-10 against the Oakland
bullpen. Brent Mayne and Brown opened the frame with walks off
righthanded sidearmer Chad Bradford. Perez reached on an
infield single to load the bases before Tejada made a fielding
blunder that nearly cost his team the game.
Ordaz hit a bouncer to the Oakland shortstop and instead of
getting the sure out at third, Tejada made a weak throw to
the plate in an attempt to get Mayne, who scored Kansas City's
Lefthander Ricardo Rincon entered the contest and fanned Tucker
before getting Carlos Beltran to hit a fly ball for what would
have been the third out. Instead, Brown scored on the sacrifice
fly and Mike Sweeney followed with a three-run homer off Jeff
Tam to cut the Royals' deficit to 11-10.
"At first, I thought I had hit it foul, that the ball would
break and go foul," Sweeney said. "But the wind kept it fair.
I thought after that first inning there was no way we could come
back. We'd get some runs, but we wouldn't come back."
The home run was the first allowed by Tam since May 26, 2001, a
span of 79 appearances.
Joe Randa opened the ninth with a single off Koch and was lifted
for pinch runner Kit Pellow, who moved to second on a
sacrifice. After Brown struck out, pinch hitter Luis Alicea
dropped a 1-2 pinch into left field for a single and Pellow
easily beat Byrnes' throw to knot the game.
"It was scary," Hatteberg said. "They kept coming back. We
were watching them and they weren't giving up. We were very
lucky tonight and we learned a valuable lesson out of this, I
"It was a great ballgame," Pena said. "They came out swinging
and jumped out to that early lead. But my boys didn't quit,
they kept their heads in the game and were able to tie it up.
Sometimes when you lose, you actually win and that's what
happened tonight. We held our own against the best team in the
majors and that goes a long way."
The victory was the 10th in a row at home for the Athletics,
tying the second-longest streak in Oakland history, and improved
their record to 78-0 when leading after eight innings.
Oakland finished the season series with an 8-1 record against
the Royals and have won 22 of the 30 contests between the teams
in the last three years.