OAKLAND, Calif. -- The Washington Nationals appeared headed for a runaway win against the Oakland Athletics on Sunday when Ryan Zimmerman, Matt Wieters and Michael Taylor all homered in the final two innings.
Zimmerman hit a tie-breaking, three-run shot in the eighth, putting Washington ahead by three runs Then, after Oakland scored a run in the bottom of the frame, the Nationals scored five more times in the ninth to build a seven-run lead as Wieters hit a two-run blast and Taylor a solo shot.
No sweat win? No way.
"My take on it is that's American League baseball," Nationals manager Dusty Baker said. "A lead is never safe because they're used to coming back and having the big innings because they're offensive clubs and can hit the ball out of the ballpark. We didn't walk guys to get to that situation. They hit us.
"You never know which run is going to be the run that wins, that wins the game. You seemingly think you got the game in hand and in the bag but you never do. And that's why we always urge our guys to keep playing."
Five of Oakland's runs in the ninth inning were charged to rookie closer Koda Glover, who, until Sunday, had five saves and pitched 8 2/3 scoreless innings since being reinstated from the disabled list on May 12. Glover got the final out in the eighth, but in the ninth he gave up four straight singles then walked in a run as Oakland pulled to within 11-6.
Kelley retired the first batter he faced, but Joyce lined his 1-1 pitch over the right-field fence for his fifth career grand slam.
"You can see we're not a team that is going to give up," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "That's a good trait to have."
After giving up the grand slam, Kelley regrouped and notched his fourth save.
"I hate it as a reliever to give up other people's runs," Kelley said. "The fact is it happened and now it's a one-run game and they've kind of killed their momentum too. Get two more outs and get out of here. That's kind of what I told myself and what Wieters came out and said."
Zimmerman, who served as the Nationals' designated hitter, went 3-for-5 with a double to go with his home run and raised his major league leading batting average to .374. He watched from the dugout in the ninth inning as the A's rallied.
"It's tough, but baseball's a crazy sport," Zimmerman said. "Things like that happen, but at the end of the day it's still a win. I've seen crazier things happen."
Zimmerman hit his go-ahead homer off reliever Ryan Madson with Trea Turner and Bryce Harper aboard. Turner lined a leadoff single and stole second with one out. After Harper was intentionally walked, he and Turner pulled off a double steal.
Madson (1-4) fell behind 3-1 in the count, and Zimmerman lined his next pitch over the left-field fence for his 16th home run of the season.
The A's cut Washington's lead to 6-4 with a run in the eighth when Joyce singled with two outs and scored on Pinder's double.
But in the ninth inning, Wieters launched a two-run shot to right off reliever Frankie Montas, and Taylor followed with a solo blast to left, making it 9-4. After Harper walked and Zimmerman doubled, Daniel Murphy hit a two-run single.
Harper returned to the lineup after serving a three-game suspension for charging the mound and fighting San Francisco Giants reliever Hunter Strickland, who hit him with a pitch on Monday. Harper went 0-for-2 with two strikeouts and three walks, including one intentional, and scored twice.
Nationals right-hander Tanner Roark (6-2) allowed four runs on five hits over 7 2/3 innings to win his third straight start. He struck out four and walked one.
A's right-hander Sonny Gray blanked the Nationals on one infield hit over the first five innings, but he wound up allowing three runs on four hits over seven innings in a no-decision. He struck out six and walked three.
"With that lineup, if you put guys on base, if you give guys free passes, they will do some damage," Gray said. "You have to stay on top of your game with every hitter. With the exception of three batters, I thought it was an OK start."
Khris Davis went 3-for-4 with a double and a two-run homer, his 17th blast of the season for the A's. He also scored three runs.
Davis was supposed to get the day off, but left fielder Mark Canha was a late scratch with stomach flu, and Davis started and hit fourth.
Turner went 2-for-4 with a two-run triple, stole two bases and scored twice.
NOTES: Nationals OF Jayson Werth, who fouled a pitch off his left foot in the ninth inning on Saturday, was out of the lineup Sunday and is expected to miss more time, manager Dusty Baker said. "That's the same toe he fouled a ball off (in spring training). I think he missed three or four days then. He's not looking good. The X-rays were negative, but he's on crutches." Werth also had a walking boot on his left foot. ... The Athletics recalled 1B/OF Matt Olson from Triple-A Nashville and optioned RHP Daniel Mengden to the Sounds. ... A's RHP Jesse Hahn (strained right triceps) will be activated from the disabled list Tuesday and start against Toronto.