Gary A. Vasquez / USA TODAY Sports

Barry Zito helps lead Oakland A's to victory in final start

Although he wasn't the official winning pitcher, Barry Zito went out on top in his final start, as he helped lead the Oakland A's to an 8-7 win over the Los Angeles Angels.

Barry Zito's final appearance at the O.co Coliseum last Saturday featured plenty of pomp and circumstance, but Zito lasted just two-plus innings in a performance that wasn't particularly memorable. With Sonny Gray sidelined for the rest of the season with a hip injury, Zito got the opportunity for one more start on Wednesday against longtime AL West rival, the Los Angeles Angels. Zito made his second chance at a final curtain call worthwhile.

Zito threw four innings against a team fighting for the playoffs, and he left the game with his team leading, 3-2. Zito was touched for two solo homeruns, one by future Hall of Famer Mike Trout and the other by the hot-hitting David Freese. He was otherwise able to work his way out of trouble thanks to three double-plays and his first two strike-outs in the big leagues since 2013. Zito's final pitch would result in a line-drive right back to the box. Zito would catch the liner, drop it on the transfer and recover in time to double-off Carlos Perez.

Zito's final line in what is almost certainly his final start would read four innings pitched, four hits and two runs allowed. He walked four, struck-out two and threw 43 of 76 pitches for strikes.

The A's would cough up the lead after Zito left when the Angels scored three times in the sixth inning. However, Oakland turned the tables on the Angels with four runs in the seventh. The big blow in that inning was a two-out, two-strike, two-run single by Stephen Vogt. The A's would tack on a run in the eighth and that run proved vital, as the Angels would chip away at the lead in the eighth and ninth.

Ryan Dull took over with two-outs in the sixth and recorded the final out of that inning when Kole Calhoun was thrown out at home trying to score on Trout's infield single. Dull worked a 1-2-3 seventh inning, but with one out in the eighth, he allowed a solo homer to Carlos Perez. That ended Dull's evening, as manager Bob Melvin called on closer Sean Doolittle to get the final five outs. 

Doolittle quickly got out of the eighth inning, but he immediately ran into trouble in the ninth. Calhoun began the inning with a solo homer. Then Doolittle walked Trout, bringing up Albert Pujols, who represented the winning run. The two engaged in an epic battle before Doolittle induced Pujols to hit a pop-up to second. C.J. Cron followed with a line-out to right, but when Freese singled, the Angels suddenly had the winning run on base. Pinch-hitter Collin Cowgill grounded out on the first pitch, and the A's were able to win Zito's final start, 8-7.

Dull earned his first major league win. That Doolittle earned the save was appropriate. Doolittle was the supplemental round pick the A's received in 2007 when Zito signed with the San Francisco Giants.


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