OAKLAND, Calif. – Kurt Suzuki already had produced a stellar day; a pair of solo home runs and a throw to second to nail a baserunner trying to steal.
Then Oakland's go-to catcher put a game-saving tag on his former Cal State Fullerton teammate to close the Athletics' 6-5 victory over the Baltimore Orioles on Wednesday.
He needed this one, too. It's been a rough year.
Suzuki connected in the second and sixth against Alfredo Simon (3-6) for his second career multihomer game and right fielder David DeJesus cut down pinch-runner Blake Davis with a perfect throw to the plate for a dramatic finish.
"The plays to right field, those are the toughest ones because you can't really judge where the runner is," Suzuki said. "I took one last peek right before Dave got the ball to see where the runner was. I knew it was going to be a bang-bang play. I played with Blake in college for three years. I knew he was going to try to slide around me, either that or he was going to try to trick me and try to run me over."
Brandon Allen tripled and scored on the same play and also had a sacrifice fly for the A's, who snapped a four-game losing streak Tuesday night and followed that up with another victory for a winning series.
DeJesus — who entered as a defensive replacement for the final inning — flubbed Nick Markakis' RBI single but recovered to make a strong throw to Suzuki, who tagged Davis to deny the Orioles the tying run. It also preserved Andrew Bailey's 15th save after he gave up three hits in the ninth.
DeJesus held his breath as he watched the play unfold.
"I'm just hoping that he was out, 'cuz that would have been ridiculous," he said. "I came in for defense and was able to make the last out, even though it was crazy."
Home plate umpire Dan Bellino asked Suzuki to "show him the ball," and the catcher obliged. And the out call finally came.
"In my mind it took about an hour for the ball to get to home plate. He bobbled the ball, but you have to keep your wits about you," said A's manager Bob Melvin, who has been preaching staying poised after a defensive blunder. "He made a heck of a throw. We'll take it."
The Orioles were trying for their first road series win since mid-May and a winning season series with Oakland for the first time since going 8-3 in their 1998 matchups. The A's won this year's meetings 5-4.
Suzuki also hit two home runs on June 3, 2010, at Boston. Seven of Oakland's nine hits went for extra bases.
Baltimore wanted to force extra innings. Davis got the go signal from third-base coach Willie Randolph and charged toward home.
"He had a good throw, the ball beat me," Davis said. "I tried to go around the tag and he blocked the plate pretty good. You can do that or you can just try and run him over. ... Looking back, it probably would have been a better idea to just probably go right into him, especially being the tying run."
Adam Jones had a sacrifice fly and Vladimir Guerrero, a familiar Oakland nemesis from his days with the rival Angels, added an RBI double as Baltimore took a quick 2-0 lead in the first.
The A's loaded the bases with no outs in the bottom half against Simon. Jemile Weeks led off with a single, Coco Crisp walked and Hideki Matsui hit a bloop single into shallow center. Josh Willingham followed with a two-run double when the ball was misplayed by left fielder Nolan Reimold, and Allen's sacrifice fly made it 3-2.
Allen is quickly becoming a reliable regular since the A's acquired him from Arizona at the trade deadline and called him up from Triple-A Sacramento on Saturday. Starting the past five games, he is batting .533 (8 for 15).
Allen keeps doing his part — and then some. He tripled for the second straight day and scored on the third-inning play. Leaping center fielder Adam Jones made an error when Allen's ball came off the wall and bounced over his head. Jones then bobbled the ball trying to pick it up from the ground.
Melvin indicated before the game that Allen will continue to get steady playing time at first base even once Conor Jackson returns. Jackson missed his fourth straight game with a stiff neck.
J.J. Hardy ended an 0-for-18 funk with a first-inning single off Brandon McCarthy to get Baltimore going. But it didn't last as the Orioles gave the runs right back in the bottom of the inning.
Markakis hit a solo homer in the sixth and Josh Bell had an RBI single in the seventh that chased McCarthy. The right-hander allowed four runs and eight hits in six-plus innings.
Fautino De Los Santos and Grant Balfour each pitched a scoreless inning before Bailey survived the rocky ninth.
"Awesome," he said of the ending. "That made it a lot less stressful."
McCarthy (6-6) was back on the mound after taking a line drive off his right knee in a 9-1 loss to Texas his last time out.
Baltimore won the series opener Monday — the Orioles' seventh time doing so on the road this year — but has gone 1-14 in games after that the last seven times it took the first game.
The Orioles have dropped 16 of their last 20 road games and have lost 10 of their last 12 series finales.
NOTES: Baltimore 2B Brian Roberts, who hasn't played since May 16 because of a concussion, was scheduled to be examined by specialist Dr. Michael Collins. ... Orioles 1B Chris Davis (shoulder) has an appointment with orthopedist Dr. Lewis Yocum on Thursday in Los Angeles and could be headed for season-ending surgery. "I'm curious to see what Dr. Yocum thinks," manager Buck Showalter said. "We're concerned that it hasn't gotten marginally better with the rest we've given him." ... Melvin said RH reliever Michael Wuertz, on the DL since July 30 with right thumb tendinitis, likely will play catch a few more times before getting on the mound to throw a bullpen session. ... Orioles RHP Jeremy Guthrie, nursing shoulder stiffness, threw a bullpen session and will not pitch Saturday against the Angels as planned. RHP Tommy Hunter will move up to Saturday, following LHP Jo-Jo Reyes on Friday at Anaheim. Sunday's pitcher is still TBA. A Southern California native, Reyes (6-9, 5.30 ERA) will make his first road start since being claimed off waivers from the Blue Jays earlier this month. ... A's RHP Trevor Cahill (9-11) tries for the fourth time to reach 10 wins when he pitches the opener of a four-game series with Toronto starting Thursday night. Cahill is 1-4 with a 6.95 ERA in six starts since the All-Star break.