OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) On what should have been the most joyous night of the year for the Oakland Athletics, the team's season-high eighth straight win ended with a swift and stunning loss.
Brandon Inge injured his troublesome right shoulder on a throw from third base and stayed in to hammer a two-run double in the next inning before leaving Oakland's 7-1 victory over the Boston Red Sox on Saturday night.
Inge, batting .218 with 12 home runs and 54 RBIs, said he will likely have season-ending surgery sometime in the next week. While he left open the possibility of holding off the operation to be a designated or pinch-hitter, he also admitted that the A's are set at those positions and that scenario is unlikely.
He had just come off the disabled list in the afternoon.
``I probably didn't tell them how bad it hurt,'' Inge said. ``Every time I throw the ball, it kills me. But I just wanted to make sure on a year like this I didn't leave anything on the table. I know that I can kind of be at peace with myself knowing that I literally gave everything that I had to offer to this team. I'm at peace with it.''
The loss spoiled another stellar performance by the home team.
Coco Crisp hit a leadoff home run and finished a triple shy of the cycle to back A.J. Griffin's gem. Griffin (4-0) retired the first 14 batters until Jarrod Saltalamacchia's bunt single with the infield shifted. The rookie right-hander struck out five and walked none while giving up three hits in seven innings.
In the end, all the highlights became secondary.
Inge was replaced to start the fourth inning after throwing out Pedro Ciriaco on a groundout to end the third. Inge said he felt his shoulder ``pop out'' immediately.
Knowing it would likely be his last chance to hit, Inge ``just grit my teeth and fought through the pain'' to hit a two-run double during a four-run third inning against lefty Felix Doubront (10-7). Inge scored on Derek Norris' single and did not return.
``It's one of those things where you just go, `Wow,''' A's manager Bob Melvin said. ``I'll tell you what, Brandon Inge's at-bat, he knows he's coming out of the game. He said, `I could hit.' And to go up there and double knowing that's probably going to be his last at-bat for a while was pretty dramatic, too, if you knew what we knew in our dugout at the time.''
``Pretty cool,'' Melvin added.
Chris Carter added his 13th homer to lead another overpowering A's victory. Oakland pounded Boston 20-2 on Friday to hand the franchise its most lopsided loss in more than a decade.
Dustin Pedroia's two-out RBI single in the sixth was all Boston managed in its fifth straight loss.
``It's getting old. It's real old,'' Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine said. ``The offense is stressed. It's a tough way to play the game.''
The low-budget A's, which won 74 games last year, improved to 75-57. Oakland leads Baltimore (73-59) for the first of two AL wild-card spots. Tampa Bay (72-61) is behind Baltimore.
Oakland's power at the plate has shown no signs of slowing down.
Making matters worse for the Red Sox - and anybody who didn't enjoy the tunes - was ISA's ``Moving Like Berney'' song that played anytime Oakland scored as part of a promotional gimmick by the A's for ``Bernie Weekend.'' Or anytime Oakland in-game entertainment crew felt like it, really.
Crisp and Inge had adopted the song as their walk-up music and the trend became a craze. The A's also had Terry Kiser, the actor who played Bernie Lomax in the ``Weekend at Bernie's'' movies, threw out the ceremonial first pitch.
Oakland certainly danced all over Boston from the start.
The Red Sox did the rest.
In what turned out to be a comedy of errors, Doubront's cutoff the throw from center on Norris' single - but nobody covered first base. The pitcher had to chase Norris back to the bag, diving for the tag as Norris slid in safely. Reliever Alfredo Aceves also dropped a foul pop by Gomes near the first-base line for an error in the fourth.
Pedroia and Aceves also appeared to get into an argument in the Red Sox dugout in the top of the fifth. Third base coach Jerry Royster separated them. Valentine said the conversation between the two teammates was about ``positioning.'' Pedroia said the exchange would remain private.
``Nobody was upset,'' Aceves said. ``It's all good.''
Saltalamacchia added another questionable move. He bunted for a single with the infield shifted with two outs in the fifth for Boston's first baserunner. The Oakland Coliseum crowd, announced at 20,315, showered the catcher with boos and every time his name was announced. Griffin said ``it is what it is'' about the bunt and shook his head when pressed about his thoughts.
For most of the night, the home fans had reason to cheer.
At least until the final result.
Inge, now 35, was released after 11-plus seasons by Detroit in April. He still plans to dress and travel with the team following surgery, he said, and will wait for the final prognosis from doctors before saying for sure that his season is finished.
``You never know,'' he said, smiling. ``I could still hit in situations. Bring a lefty in, you never know.''
NOTES: Adam Rosales shifted to third base and Cliff Pennington took over at second. .... Former A's closer Andrew Bailey struck out Cespedes in the eighth in his first appearance with Boston at the Coliseum. ... Lefty Brett Anderson (2-0, 0.64 ERA) will start for the A's against RHP Daisuke Matsuzaka (1-3, 5.10 ERA) in Sunday's series finale.
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