OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — During a season that has been one of the most tumultuous in franchise history, second-year Oakland Athletics manager Mark Kotsay has worked overtime to keep his players positive.
It’s starting to pay off.
After losing their first nine series at home — one shy of the Oakland record — the A’s are finally stringing together victories.
Seth Brown scored on a fielding error by Atlanta third baseman Austin Riley in the ninth inning, and the A’s beat the Braves 2-1 on Tuesday night, recording consecutive victories for the second time this season.
“Kots talked to us last week about just taking the small victories when you get them,’ starting pitcher JP Sears said. “I think guys bought into that. Just trying to win each game, each pitch and just kind of keep our head down and not look at the outside and the distractions around us.”
Like all 12 of the A’s wins this season, this one didn’t come easily.
Braves reliever Raisel Iglesias (1-2) walked three of the first four Oakland batters in the ninth. Jonah Bride hit a sharp grounder that Riley bobbled. Bride easily beat Riley’s throw to first as Brown scored, giving the A’s their fifth walkoff win of the season and first back-to-back victories since May 5-6 in Kansas City.
“You got to think at some point he’s going to groove one,” Bride said of Iglesias. “I saw a fastball up. Obviously trying to hit it in the air, but got on top of it. But I’ve always heard good things happen when you put it in play. And that was the case tonight.”
Oakland moved to 12-45 with the win in front of 5,116, the 21st time in 30 home games that the attendance has been under 10,000.
“Winning a series feels good,” Kotsay said. “It’s something that we’ve had a hard time with, obviously. Wins build confidence. As much work and preparation as these guys do, you still need that win to support that the work is paying off.”
Kevin Pillar hit his sixth homer of the season for the NL East-leading Braves.
One day after ending an 11-game losing streak with a 7-2 win over the Braves, Oakland struggled to get much going against Atlanta starter Bryce Elder.
Elder held the A’s without a hit until the fourth, when Ramón Laureano rolled a two-out single into right field.
In the fifth, Oakland strung together three straight singles with one out, tying the game. Shea Langeliers got it going with the A’s second hit of the game and scored on Esteury Ruiz’s single to left.
Elder had five strikeouts and worked around three walks in 7 1/3 innings while lowering his majors-leading ERA to 1.92, among qualifiers.
Pillar, who has homered in his last three starts, led off the third by drilling a 2-1 fastball 344 feet, hitting the cement facade above the padded wall in left and bouncing back onto the field. The veteran outfielder later doubled to nearly the same spot in the fifth. The ball hit on the warning track, bounced up and ricocheted off the wall.
Shintaro Fujinami (2-5) retired the only batter he faced on a foul pop-up to the catcher and earned the win.
Sears, who going into the game was tied for most no-decisions in the majors with seven, added to that with a solid outing. He allowed one run and four hits in six innings, yet remained winless since Sept. 20, 2022.
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