OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) - Derek Norris took a turn in the ever-changing rotation of Oakland Athletics to end games in dramatic fashion.
Norris singled up the middle with two outs and the bases loaded in the 10th inning against former Oakland closer Grant Balfour, and the Athletics beat the Tampa Bay Rays 3-2 on Monday night.
“I’ve had a quite a few opportunities tonight to put the ball in play,” Norris said. “It was just good I could come up and finally get the game over with.”
Norris notched his second career game-ending RBI while facing Balfour (1-4) in Oakland’s eighth walkoff win.
The AL West-leading A’s remained one game ahead of the Los Angeles Angels and avoided losing consecutive home games for just the second time this season.
The A’s loaded the bases against Balfour, who received a mound visit before Brandon Moss stepped in with a chance at a fourth grand slam but struck out. Norris delivered with his first game-ending RBI since June 24, 2012, against the Giants.
“I just got beat by a good team tonight, plain and simple,” Balfour said. “It’s tough when you have to get five outs.”
Rays manager Joe Maddon was ejected by first base umpire Quinn Wolcott on an “egregious” non-strike call during on Josh Donaldson’s 10th-inning walk and rushed the field to argue once more.
Ryan Cook (1-1) earned the win on a night the A’s stranded a season-high 18 runners.
The A’s won their 11th extra-inning game, second-most in the majors behind Baltimore.
Tampa Bay had its eight-game road winning streak snapped, which matched the longest in club history, to kick off a 10-game trip. The Rays lost away from Tropicana Field for the first time since July 3 at Detroit and dropped to 23-10 overall since June 25.
In the ninth, reliever Sean Doolittle fielded Brandon Guyer’s bouncing safety squeeze bunt and tossed about 10 feet to catcher Norris to tag out James Loney and save the go-ahead run. Doolittle then struck out Kevin Kiermaier.
Until Norris came through, Oakland had missed key chances with runners in scoring position. The A’s loaded the bases with two outs in the seventh against Joel Peralta.
Coming off consecutive series losses for only the second time this season, the A’s avoided losing back-to-back at home for the first time since May 5-6 against Seattle.
Josh Donaldson singled in the tying run in the sixth.