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Keibert Ruiz homers on first pitch of 9th inning to lift Nationals past Athletics, 3-2

WASHINGTON (AP) — Keibert Ruiz hit the first pitch of the ninth inning into the right-field bullpen to give the Washington Nationals a 3-2 victory over the Oakland Athletics on Saturday night.

Ruiz homered for the second consecutive night to help Washington win for the seventh time in its last 10 — and earn its 11th victory in its last 13 home games. It was the Nationals’ second walkoff homer of the season, following Alex Call’s blast against the Chicago Cubs on May 4.

“I can't describe the moment,” Ruiz said. “It's something I've been dreaming of for a long time.”

JJ Bleday and Brent Rooker homered for Oakland, which fell to a majors-worst 33-84. The Athletics are 51 games under .500 for the first time since finishing 54-108 in 1979. They are on pace to go 46-116.

Lucas Erceg (2-3) had just entered and threw a 97 mph fastball that Ruiz smacked for his first career game-ending home run.

Ruiz is hitting .333 (31 for 93) with five homers and 13 RBIs in his last 26 games.

“He's been playing well, on both sides,” Washington manager Dave Martinez said. “The defense has been really good, and he's started swinging the bat like we know he can.”

Kyle Finnegan (6-3) pitched a scoreless ninth for Washington.

For the second consecutive night, there were chants of “Sell the team! Sell the team!” in the top of the fifth inning, a message directed at Athletics owner John Fisher, who plans to move the franchise to Las Vegas. The A’s have played in Oakland since 1968.

Oakland starter Luis Medina was pulled after making 84 pitches in four innings. The rookie allowed a run in the second when leadoff hitter Ildemaro Vargas hit a sharp grounder back to the mound. As Medina jogged toward the bag and didn’t throw it to first baseman Tyler Soderstrom, Vargas scampered down the line for a single.

Washington sandwiched Stone Garrett’s walk and Blake Rutherford’s single — his first big league hit — around a strikeout, and Vargas scored on Call’s forceout.

Bleday homered in the third off Washington starter Jake Irvin. The rookie right-hander set down the next 10 Athletics before Rooker ripped his 19th homer of the year to right. Irvin allowed two runs in 6 2/3 innings and struck out six.

Washington tied it on Lane Thomas’ bases-loaded bloop single with none out in the eighth, but right-hander Angel Felipe induced a double-play grounder back to the mound and struck out Joey Meneses to prevent further damage.

“Tonight we beat ourselves,” Oakland manager Mark Kotsay said. “There in the eighth inning, not being able to field a bunt and walking the leadoff hitter. A (wild pitch). Just all the things that add up to a little bit of inexperience, a little bit of not being in the moment and going through this with a young roster right now."

Oakland outfielder Lawrence Butler doubled in the seventh for his first hit in the majors.


Athletics: Oakland selected LHP Francisco Pérez from Triple-A Las Vegas and optioned LHP Sam Long to Las Vegas. … C Carlos Pérez (thumb) was 2 for 4 with two runs and an RBI in a rehabilitation assignment game Friday for Las Vegas.

Nationals: Martinez said RHP Joan Adon was feeling better after leaving Friday’s start after three innings with leg cramps. Adon will undergo tests before he starts again. … RHP Hunter Harvey (elbow) will throw a simulated game Sunday. … RHP Tanner Rainey (Tommy John surgery) is scheduled to throw a simulated game Monday or Tuesday. “If that goes well, we’ll talk about sending him somewhere (for a rehabilitation assignment),” Martinez said.


Athletics: LHP Ken Waldichuk (2-7, 6.30 ERA) faces Washington for the first time since his major league debut last Sept. 1, when he allowed one run in 4 2/3 innings.

Nationals: RHP Trevor Williams (5-7, 5.00), who is 0-2 with a 7.25 ERA in five starts since the All-Star break, gets the ball as the three-game series concludes.