With the win, the A’s shaved their magic number to win the American League West to six. The A’s maintained a 6½-game lead over the Texas Rangers, who knocked off the Tampa Bay Rays 7-1 earlier Tuesday.
“With two strikes, [Donaldson] shortened up, went the other way and we’ve seen him do that all year,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said.
Alberto Callaspo started the ninth-inning rally by slapping a single to left. Then, pinch runner Jemile Weeks reached second by tagging on a deep fly ball to left field, leading the Angels to intentionally walk the next batter, Jed Lowrie.
Coco Crisp loaded the bases by drawing a walk after falling behind 0-2 to Angels right-hander Michael Kohn, setting the stage for Donaldson’s game-winning hit.
Donaldson went 3-for-5 on the night and has now reached base safely in 22 straight games.
The Angels opened the scoring in the first when Mike Trout followed up Monday’s 452-foot home run, a blast that hit the green facade in deep center, just below the luxury suites.
The A’s tied the game at 1-1 in the bottom of the inning when Brandon Moss hit a two-out ground-rule double past a diving Kole Calhoun in right, scoring Crisp.
Rookie Sonny Gray earned a no decision, scattering five hits over six innings of work while surrendering only one run in a pitcher’s duel with Angels young gun Garrett Richards.
Gray pitched himself out of trouble in the fifth, fanning Trout and inducing a fly ball out of Josh Hamilton after putting runner’s at the corners with one out.
“He’s not going to back down with his stuff,” Melvin said. “In those types of situations you have to have supreme confidence in your stuff and not really worry about who’s at the plate.”
The 23-year-old right-hander got by with a little help from his friends in the sixth when Josh Reddick stole an extra-base hit from Mark Trumbo, making a fully-extended diving catch on a sinking line drive in the right-center gap.
“That’s the only way [Reddick] knows how to play,” Melvin said. “He’s going to do that every time -- he won a Gold Glove last year doing that.”
Left-hander Jerry Blevins pitched out of a bases loaded jam in the seventh, fanning Hamilton, who entered the game batting .190 against southpaws, with a curveball to escape the inning after falling behind 3-1 in the count.
“The 3-1 pitch was a gutsy pitch -- he’s got to throw a strike, looked like it was corner way,” Melvin said. “And then, again, gutsy pitch at 3-2, threw him a breaking ball, struck him out.”
The bullpen pitched three scoreless innings, giving the A’s a chance to squeak out a walk-off win in the ninth. Grant Balfour (1-3) earned the win by striking out the side in the top of the ninth.