BALTIMORE — There once was a time when the Baltimore Orioles would be content with a moral victory.
Although that is no longer the case for the AL East contenders, manager Buck Showalter knows a fine performance isn't always rewarded with a win.
And so, after Baltimore's 4-3 loss to the Oakland Athletics in 11 innings on Friday night, Showalter focused on how well the Orioles played against the team with the best record in the American League.
Baltimore got a solid effort from starter Wei-Yin Chen, who left in the seventh with a 3-2 lead. The Orioles used home runs by Manny Machado and Chris Davis to rally from an early 2-0 deficit and nearly won the game in the 10th when Adam Jones singled to right field with Nick Markakis on second base. Markakis was thrown out at the plate in a very close play.
"You know what's funny about games like this? Adam had a big hit for us going the other way in a key situation but unfortunately because of about a half-second it's not really a topic," Showalter said. "There's a lot of great things that really happened tonight. Unfortunately, they did a couple more than we did."
All of this came after a late-night flight Thursday from Texas, where the Orioles lost a frustrating 8-6 decision to the Rangers.
"Real proud after a challenging night and day the way our guys competed," Showalter said. "It's a good team over there, obviously, and we couldn't quite get over the hump."
It was the sixth win in seven games for the Athletics, who own the best road record in the majors (21-11).
In the third inning, A's third baseman Josh Donaldson tagged Machado in the chest for the third out, causing Machado to lose his balance and topple backward. Machado quickly stood up and yelled close-up at Donaldson, apparently questioning the force of the tag, and players from both sides crowded around the duo before Showalter pulled Machado away.
"I just tried to tag the guy. I was walking over there to go pick his helmet up for him, then he jumps up and starts yelling at me," Donaldson said. "I don't know what happened on his end, but I'm just trying to do my job and play the game of baseball."
Machado said: "Right play, he made the right play, but I just didn't agree on the tag that he made on me and I just had to get up and confront him. You get in the heat of the moment and things start flying."
That appeared to be the end of it, but with two outs and nobody on in the sixth inning, Chen threw an inside pitch near Donaldson's chin. After retreating from the batter's box, Donaldson smiled knowingly. But he expressed anger minutes later, when Chen hit him with another inside fastball.
"I understand them pitching in. That's fine," Donaldson said. "It was just on my hand. (Baltimore's) Nellie Cruz took one on the hand just the other day, and he doesn't seem too fond of that either."
The A's trailed 3-2 in eighth before pinch-hitter Coco Crisp drew a walk from Darren O'Day, stole second and scored on a two-out single by Yoenis Cespedes.
John Jaso led off the Oakland 11th with a pinch-hit double off Evan Meek (0-2). With one out, Gold Glove shortstop J.J. Hardy botched a grounder, his fourth error in two games. Meek went to third on the play and scored when pinch-hitter Stephen Vogt hit a liner to left.
Fernando Abad (1-2) worked the 10th and Sean Doolittle got three outs for his eighth save.
In the 10th, after Markakis was thrown out at the plate, Cruz was cut down trying to steal home.
"Saw it, felt it, went for it, didn't work out," Showalter said.
Donaldson put the A's up 1-0 in the first with his 17th home run, and Derek Norris connected leading off the second.
Baltimore used three straight two-out singles, the last by rookie Jonathan Schoop, to get a run back in the bottom of the second.
Davis tied it in the fourth with an opposite-field drive to left, and Machado homered in the fifth for a 3-2 lead.
NOTES: The Orioles put RHP Miguel Gonzalez (strained right oblique) on the 15-day DL, recalled RHP Tim Berry from Double-A Bowie, purchased the contract of Meek from Triple-A Norfolk and optioned RHP Preston Guilmet to the same club. ... Kevin Gausman replaced Gonzalez as Baltimore's starter vs. Oakland on Saturday. The A's will call upon right-hander Sonny Gray (6-1, 2.45 ERA). ... Former Orioles closer Jim Johnson returned to Baltimore for the first time since being traded during the offseason. "A lot of memories. It's obviously different going into a different clubhouse. It's cool," Johnson said. ... Oakland has homered in 14 straight games. ... LHP Johan Santana, who hoped to make a comeback with the Orioles, tore his Achilles tendon in extended spring training and is lost for the year.