Kurt Suzuki's homer in 12th gives Atlanta Braves sweep of Oakland A's

By Eric Gilmore, The Sports Xchange  |  July 3, 2017 at 1:37 AM
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OAKLAND, Calif. -- Coming back to play at the Oakland Coliseum, his baseball home for over six seasons, is always special for Atlanta Braves catcher Kurt Suzuki.

His homecoming Sunday will be hard to top.

Suzuki hit two home runs, including a tiebreaking solo shot in the top of the 12th inning, powering the Braves to a 4-3 victory against the Oakland Athletics and a three-game series sweep.

Leading off the 12th, the former Athletic launched John Axford's 3-1, 96 mph fastball into the left-center-field seats for his sixth home run of the season. Suzuki also led off the second inning with a homer.

"I want to do good every time, but it gives you a little bit extra adrenaline," Suzuki said of coming to Oakland. "I got a little bit of cheers in the beginning of the game. I'm definitely very blessed and humbled. This was a great place for me. My family and I, we had a great time here.

"The fans embraced me from Day 1, good and bad. To come back here, I definitely had some adrenaline going."

Suzuki hit two home runs in a game for the third time in career. The first two occurrences came with Oakland in 2010 and 2011.

Until Sunday, Suzuki had gone homerless against the A's in 12 games. He didn't play in either of the first two games of the series.

"I told him yesterday, 'I got to break you out or these people are going to kill me,'" Braves manager Brian Snitker said. "It was great. Couldn't happen to a better guy."

Braves right-hander Arodys Vizcaino gave up a two-out single to Khris Davis in the bottom of the 12th and walked Yonder Alonso, who was named to the American League All-Star team Sunday for the first time. However, Vizcaino retired Franklin Barreto on a fly ball to record his second save of the season.

The Braves took a 3-2 lead in the top of the 11th when Matt Kemp hit an RBI double off the center field fence with two outs, scoring Nick Markakis, who had walked.

The A's answered with a run in the bottom of the 11th off closer Jim Johnson (6-1). Johnson issued a leadoff walk to Davis and walked Alonso on five pitches. Barreto struck out, but Bruce Maxwell doubled off the right field fence, scoring Davis to make it 3-3.

Jaycob Brugman was intentionally walked, loading the bases for Adam Rosales. Rosales hit a fly ball to shallow center, but Ender Inciarte, who was playing in a few steps, made a spectacular sliding catch. Johnson struck out Rajai Davis to end the inning.

Inciarte, who won a Gold Glove last season and was named to the National League All-Star team for the first time Sunday, had three hits, including an RBI double.

"As soon as the ball was hit, I reacted quick," Inciarte said. I had a good jump. The whole way, I knew I was going to get it. I had to."

Davis slugged his team-high 23rd home run, a solo shot in the seventh.

The A's lost their fifth straight game overall and their seventh straight at home.

"We had one big inning where we had a chance to win it," Oakland anager Bob Melvin said. "We didn't do much before that. We maximized our opportunity in one inning and we didn't come through, and that cost us."

Braves right-hander Julio Teheran allowed two runs on three hits over 6 1/3 innings in a no-decision, turning in another strong road start. He is 5-0 in eight road games and 1-6 in nine starts at home. Teheran struck out a season-high eight and walked four.

A's left-hander Sean Manaea gave up two runs on six hits, including a home run, over 7 1/3 innings in a no-decision. He struck out six and walked two. Axford (0-1) took the loss.

The Braves took a 2-0 lead in the top of the second inning. Suzuki launched a leadoff homer, his fifth blast of the season. Manaea got ahead 0-2 in the count but threw an elevated outside fastball just off the plate, and Suzuki sent it into the left field seats.

"He's got some power and he's smart, and he knows when to look for a fastball and get the head out, and he did both times," Melvin said.

Danny Santana followed with a walk and stole second. With two outs, Inciarte brought Santana home from third with a double to right on a ground ball down the line that got past first baseman Alonso.

The A's (35-47) pulled even with two runs in the seventh.

Davis led off with a home run to right-center. With one out, Barreto singled on a pop fly that second baseman Brandon Phillips lost in the sun. Barreto stole second before Teheran walked Maxwell and Brugman, loading the bases. Rosales hit a sacrifice fly off reliever Jason Motte to make it 2-2.

The Braves won for the eighth time in their past 11 games and pulled within one game of .500 at 40-41.

"We feel like we haven't played our best baseball yet, and that's a good sign because we're still right in the thick of things," Suzuki said.

NOTES: A's RHP Jesse Hahn was optioned to Triple-A Nashville. In each of his past two starts, both losses to Houston, Hahn lasted only two innings. He gave up a combined 16 runs on 15 hits, including three home runs. Oakland recalled RHP Zach Neal from Triple-A Nashville. ... A's 3B Ryon Healy left the game after the bottom of the second inning with upper back spasms and is day-to-day. ... Braves LF Danny Santana, who stole three bases on Saturday, had another steal in the second inning Sunday. ... Oakland SS Marcus Semien (fractured right wrist) will likely be reinstated from the disabled list before the All-Star break, manager Bob Melvin said. Melvin pointed to the Athletics' four-game series at Seattle on July 6-9 as the target for Semien's return. Semien began his rehab assignment with Class A Stockton then moved to Triple-A Nashville on Saturday.

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