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A's fall to Yanks on error in the 14th

NEW YORK -- Stop us if you've seen this before. The Yankees and A's struggled to separate themselves for five hours and 12 innings on Saturday. And then things really got interesting.

Oakland pounded three home runs and briefly took a four-run cushion in the 13th inning, but the Yankees forged their own unlikely rally to tie the game. The telling blow didn't come until the 14th inning, when the decisive run came home on an error to give the Yankees a 10-9 win.

That resolution -- nearly six hours in the making -- allowed the Yankees (88-63) to stay one game ahead of the Orioles in the race for the American League East title. And it also gave the A's (85-66) their fifth loss in the last six games, a distressing skid for a team in control of its own playoff destiny.

"I don't remember a game quite like that that I've ever been part of. Certainly extra-inning games, long games, games where there are comebacks. But maybe not quite like that," said A's manager Bob Melvin. "There's so many things over the course of that game that could've made it a different outcome."

Oakland, which remains in command of the league's last Wild Card slot, overcame two deficits and even dodged a bases-loaded situation in the 12th on Saturday. And then it took control, as Jonny Gomes, Yoenis Cespedes and Chris Carter all went deep in the road team's late rally.

Gomes struck first, driving a two-run blast to left field off Freddy Garcia to give the A's their first lead since the top of the first inning. Cespedes piled on two pitches later with a monster shot over the left-field fence, and Carter homered off reliever Justin Thomas to add to the damage.

That trio of homers meant a pair of historical precedents. The A's had never hit three home runs in an extra inning before, and they had never taken a four-run lead in extra innings without winning. And now, they have to go back to the drawing board after back-to-back losses in extra innings.

"At this point, a win is a win and a loss is a loss. Win by 20 or lose by 20, it really doesn't matter," said Gomes. "Our back's not on the wall. If we lost, our season's not over. It wasn't Game 7 of the World Series. Our bullpen was ready to be historical today. They went [10] innings, one run, just ran out of gas. We'll walk out of these double doors, come back tomorrow and try to win a ballgame."

A much-needed victory seemed within their grasp on Saturday, and it came after the A's had fought through a few difficult scenarios. One tough juncture came in the 12th inning, when Raul Ibanez -- who had already homered earlier in the game -- doubled and moved to third on a wild pitch.

Ibanez wound up trying to score on a ground ball to second base, but he was thrown out at the plate by Cliff Pennington. Catcher Derek Norris took the full impact of a collision on the play, and the A's allowed the Yankees to load the bases later in the inning but managed to escape on a popup.

They weren't so lucky in the 13th. New York loaded the bases on three quick singles and reliever Pat Neshek threw a wild pitch to chase home one run. Another run came home on a sacrifice fly, and Ibanez kept the home team alive with a two-run blast to right field.

"You fight pretty hard. Obviously both teams did," said Melvin. "You know it's never over until it's over. If we can put up four runs, they can too. You have to go out there and keep your focus and play it out until it's over. It didn't end up in our favor. There are a lot of emotional swings in that game."

The final inning contained its own bit of drama. The Yankees got a leadoff single and Derek Jeter bunted the potential winning run into scoring position. Alex Rodriguez singled, but the runner -- rookie Melky Mesa -- missed third base when trying to score and had to stop 90 feet shy of home.

Mesa was then erased at home on a fielder's choice, and Eduardo Nunez came up with two outs and the bases loaded. Nunez hit a hard shot up the first-base line that Brandon Moss wasn't able to corral. The ball skipped away from Moss, and Ichiro Suzuki came home with the winning run.

"I've never experienced anything like that," said Suzuki. "When they scored four runs, a lot of fans went home. I bet they're shocked to get home and see the score."

"We fought back and they fought back harder. It just comes down to finishing things off when it comes time for crunch time," said Norris of the final result. "Craziest [game]? No. Most aggravating? Yes. We should've come away with a win, but that's just the way it goes."

The big picture got lost in the early details Saturday, when Oakland took a lead just two batters into the game and then gave it back almost as quickly. The A's, in fact, endured a tough first inning that included a home run, three walks, a balk and an error committed by third baseman Josh Donaldson.

The defense cropped up again in the second, as Oakland made an error and allowed a run to score on a wild pitch. The A's overcame their early adversity, and both starting pitchers -- Travis Blackley for Oakland and Ivan Nova for New York -- were out of the game by the end of the third inning.

The A's got 10 innings of one-run ball out of their bullpen prior to the tying rally. Oakland had a chance to vault ahead with the bases loaded in the 11th inning, but Josh Reddick -- who had earlier grounded into a 1-2-3 double play with the bases loaded -- lined out to first baseman Steve Pearce on a spectacular diving play.

"I've played in this building a lot. This building's an emotional roller coaster. Up, down. Up, down," said Gomes. "I'm sure they're going through the same thing. Obviously, they had last licks. They've got the upper hand there. But it's Yankee Stadium. There's a lot of greats looking down."

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