A’s hold off Abreu, White Sox 5-3, force series to Game 3

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Oakland Athletics’ Marcus Semien (10) celebrates after hitting a two-run home run that scored Sean Murphy (12) against the Chicago White Sox during the second inning of Game 2 of an American League wild-card baseball series Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2020, in Oakland, Calif. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Marcus Semien and Khris Davis homered early and the Oakland Athletics held off José Abreu and the Chicago White Sox in the late innings for a 5-3 win Wednesday that sent their AL playoff series to a deciding Game 3.

A’s reliever Jake Diekman walked home a run in the ninth, then retired the big-hitting Abreu on a sharp grounder to end it and even the best-of-three wild-card matchup at 1-all.

Game 3 is Thursday at the Coliseum.

The White Sox went 14-0 in the regular season against left-handed starters during the regular season and beat southpaw Jesús Luzardo in the opener. A’s manager Bob Melvin acknowledged it might make him reconsider who to start with the season on the line — perhaps righty Mike Fiers over lefty Sean Manaea.

Chris Bassitt allowed one run on six hits in seven-plus innings during an impressive postseason debut as the AL West champion A’s snapped a six-game postseason losing streak dating to 2013.

The right-hander, drafted by the White Sox before being traded to Oakland in December 2014, came in on a nice roll having won his last three regular-season decisions.

Things got interesting when Bassitt gave way to Liam Hendriks after a leadoff single to Tim Anderson in the eighth with a 5-0 lead. Yasmani Grandal hit a two-run homer one out later.

Hendriks surrendered a pair of two-out singles in the ninth and walked Yoán Moncada to load the bases. Diekman relieved and walked Grandal to bring home a run.

Abreu, at the top of the list of AL MVP candidates, hit a hard grounder to second base as Diekman earned a tough save.

Oakland hit three consecutive one-out singles in the first against Dallas Keuchel and rookie second baseman Nick Madrigal’s fielding error allowed two runs to score.

Keuchel exited after 3 1/3 innings having allowed five runs — three earned — and six hits.

He couldn’t hold down the slugging A’s as Lucas Giolito did a day earlier taking a perfect game into the seventh inning of Chicago’s 4-1 Game 1 victory.

The White Sox haven’t won back-to-back road playoff games since getting six straight in 2005.

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