Marcus Semien and Khris Davis homered early and the Oakland Athletics held off José Abreu and the Chicago White Sox in the late innings for a 5-3 win Wednesday that sent their AL playoff series to a deciding Game 3.
A's reliever Jake Diekman walked home a run in the ninth, then retired the big-hitting Abreu on a sharp grounder to end it and even the best-of-three wild-card matchup at 1-all.
Game 3 is Thursday at the Coliseum.
The White Sox went 14-0 in the regular season against left-handed starters during the regular season and beat southpaw Jesús Luzardo in the opener. A’s manager Bob Melvin acknowledged it might make him reconsider who to start with the season on the line — perhaps righty Mike Fiers over lefty Sean Manaea.
Chris Bassitt allowed one run on six hits in seven-plus innings during an impressive postseason debut as the AL West champion A's snapped a six-game postseason losing streak dating to 2013.
The right-hander, drafted by the White Sox before being traded to Oakland in December 2014, came in on a nice roll having won his last three regular-season decisions.
Things got interesting when Bassitt gave way to Liam Hendriks after a leadoff single to Tim Anderson in the eighth with a 5-0 lead. Yasmani Grandal hit a two-run homer one out later.
Hendriks surrendered a pair of two-out singles in the ninth and walked Yoán Moncada to load the bases. Diekman relieved and walked Grandal to bring home a run.
Abreu, at the top of the list of AL MVP candidates, hit a hard grounder to second base as Diekman earned a tough save.
Oakland hit three consecutive one-out singles in the first against Dallas Keuchel and rookie second baseman Nick Madrigal's fielding error allowed two runs to score.
Keuchel exited after 3 1/3 innings having allowed five runs — three earned — and six hits.
He couldn't hold down the slugging A's as Lucas Giolito did a day earlier taking a perfect game into the seventh inning of Chicago’s 4-1 Game 1 victory.
The White Sox haven't won back-to-back road playoff games since getting six straight in 2005.
BACK ON TRACK
The A's had dropped five straight postseason games when facing elimination.
Oakland’s six-game playoff skid matched the longest in A’s history — also done from Oct. 10, 2006-Oct. 7, 2012. This marked the club’s first postseason win since Game 3 of the 2013 AL Division Series, a 6-3 victory against Detroit at Comerica Park.
The A's lost in the AL wild-card game each of the past two years after winning 97 games both seasons but finishing second to the rival Houston Astros.
Davis, who led the majors with 48 home runs in 2018, cleared the fences for only the second time since Sept. 4 after playing in only 11 games down the stretch.
He went just 3 for 18 against the White Sox last season.
White Sox: LF Eloy Jiménez was out for a second straight playoff game as he nurses a sprained right foot that kept him out of the final three games of the regular season. Jiménez went through extensive baseball work Monday and still experienced soreness.
Jiménez was still receiving treatment to determine his status, with manager Rick Renteria noting he wasn't available as designated hitter because “you need to be able to run.”
“Right now he's about the same, no worse,” Renteria said. "Hopefully that can calm down a little bit more."
With another noon start, some of the A's chose to hit on the field after not doing so Tuesday — which was treated more like a day game after a night game. Melvin said many of his players didn't want to go two straight days without batting practice.
Oakland kept six starting pitchers on the roster to have options for a deciding game.
“It's all hands on deck,” Renteria said, not providing specifics on who he might start. “TBA.”