Josh Hamilton belted a game-tying two-run homer in the top of the ninth inning, then delivered a sacrifice fly in the 11th to rally the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim to a 5-4 victory over the Oakland Athletics.
Hamilton's heroics enabled the Angels to claim the rubber match of this three- game series and keep Oakland's magic number for a playoff spot at five. The A's have a magic number of six to clinch the AL West.
Mike Trout added a two-run homer in the triumph, the Angels' seventh in nine games. J.C. Gutierrez (1-4), one of four Anaheim relievers that combined for five scoreless innings, picked up the win after working the bottom of the 10th.
"The path that we had been on, the ups and downs we've had all year, it's nice to see a nice string of good quality baseball this last month," said Angels starter Jason Vargas.
Coco Crisp and Yoenis Cespedes each socked two-run homers in the third inning for Oakland, which received a strong six-inning effort from A.J. Griffin. The Athletics' starter permitted just one hit -- Trout's blast in the top of the first -- and a pair of walks while striking out six.
After mustering just one hit between the second to eighth innings, the Angels' bats came alive while trailing 4-2 in the ninth.
Erick Aybar greeted Grant Balfour with a single before the Oakland closer got the dangerous Trout to fly out. Hamilton then stepped in and hammered an 0-1 fastball well into the seats in right to tie the game.
The blown save was only Balfour's third in 41 chances this season.
"He's had a great year," said Athletics manager Bob Melvin. "If you look at it overall, three blown saves is going to work anywhere. And actually he did have good stuff today. He just got one fastball probably not in the right spot to a pretty good fastball hitter."
Anaheim struck again in the 11th, with J.B. Shuck stroking a leadoff double against Jesse Chavez (2-4) and advancing a base on an Aybar sacrifice bunt. Hamilton's fly ball to left off Jerry Blevins was plenty deep to allow Shuck to cross the plate without a throw for the eventual winning run.
"That's what I was trying to do last night, but I just didn't wait enough," said Hamilton, who struck out against Blevins with the bases loaded in Tuesday's 2-1 loss to the A's. "So, I learned my lesson."
The A's went down quietly against Ernesto Frieri in their half of the 11th, with the Angels' closer retiring the side in order to notch his 35th save of the year.
Griffin was shaky early on, issuing a walk to Shuck to open the game and serving up Trout's third homer of the series two batters later that staked the Angels to a quick 2-0 lead.
The right-hander dominated from that point forward, setting down 17 of the 18 batters he faced following Trout's blast. Griffin's only blemish during that stretch came when he walked Mark Trumbo in the fourth.
Vargas only had one bad inning as well in an otherwise solid showing. That came in the bottom of the third, which began with a single from Josh Reddick. One out afterward, Crisp knotted the score with his career-high 20th homer of the season, a drive to left on a full count.
Jed Lowrie later extended the frame with a two-out single to send up Cespedes, who crushed a Vargas fastball over the wall in straightaway center for a 4-2 Oakland advantage.
Vargas lasted six innings, permitting four runs on seven hits and fanning five.