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Rookie Jackson Merrill hits walk-off HR in 9th to give Padres 5-4 comeback win over A's

Merrill and Donovan Solano each hit two homers in the victory
Athletics Padres Baseball jackson merrill
Posted at 6:50 AM, Jun 13, 2024

SAN DIEGO (AP) — Rookie Jackson Merrill's second homer of the day was a game-ending drive off Mason Miller with one out in the ninth inning, and the San Diego Padres beat the Oakland Athletics 5-4 on Wednesday as Fernando Tatis Jr.'s career-high 17-game hitting streak ended.

Merrill drove the first pitch he saw from Miller (1-1) just over the home run porch in right and emphatically flipped his bat. He was met at home by a wild celebration as the Padres reveled in their second dramatic win in less than 24 hours and their first series sweep of the season.

Kyle Higashioka hit a leadoff drive in the ninth on Tuesday night, giving San Diego a 4-3 victory. On Wednesday, it was Merrill's turn.

“I don't even remember me swinging it,” said Merrill, who at 21 became the youngest player in Padres history with a game-ending homer. “It's kind of like one of those blackout moments when you do it and it's really surreal.”

He went deep on a slider.

“As soon as I saw spin, I kind of knew, ‘You’ve got to go here,'” Merrill said. “He's not going to leave another spin pitch right in the middle of the zone.”

Merrill was drafted out of high school as a shortstop in 2021. He had a great spring training and made the opening-day roster as the starting center fielder, which was vacated when Trent Grisham was sent to the New York Yankees along with Juan Soto in a blockbuster trade on Dec. 7.

Donovan Solano also hit two home runs, including a tying shot in the eighth. Tatis, who went 0 for 3, was aboard with a walk. Tatis' streak had been the longest active streak in the majors.

“He could have easily chased a hitting streak, instead he took a great at-bat and earned the walk on a borderline pitch,” manager Mike Shildt said about Tatis. “That's winning baseball.”

Tatis said his mindset was “Just having a good at-bat. It's baseball. To help the team. I was just playing baseball the right way. The right way about this game is the ‘W’ at the end and that helps a little bit for us to win.”

A's manager Mark Kotsay was ejected in the top of the ninth by home plate umpire Tom Hanahan. The A's struck out 18 times, including a season-high 12 by Padres starter Michael King.

The A's rallied for three runs in the sixth to take the lead and pushed it to 4-2 in the eighth on Zack Gelof's double to left-center.

The Padres tied it in the bottom of the eighth on Solano's drive to center off Lucas Erceg.

San Diego has hit 15 homers since Friday night, and it has homered in 10 straight games at Petco Park.

“The talent that we have, it's almost expected," King said. "The games where it's not there, you come in and you're shocked we didn't put up a 450-foot home run. You think about all the guys we have, the talent that we have, and the two guys that did it were the two that you probably weren't expecting to hit home runs today. One through nine in this order is dangerous and it's fun when they're all clicking.”

The A's put on a small-ball clinic while erasing a 2-0 deficit in the sixth.

The A's opened the sixth with five straight singles and then a walk. King allowed consecutive singles and was relieved by Wandy Peralta. Tyler Soderstrom and Shea Langeliers hit RBI singles.

Seth Brown, a left-handed hitter, laid down a perfect bunt to the third base side that eluded Peralta and, with third baseman Abraham Toro covering the bag as Soderstrom advanced from second, rolled all the way to the dirt, where shortstop Ha-Seong Kim fielded it and threw home too late to get Soderstrom.

Daz Cameron walked to load the bases before rookie Stephen Kolek came on and got two strikeouts. Left fielder Jose Azocar then made a nice sliding catch on Toro's flyball.

The Padres took a 2-0 lead on home runs by Solano in the second and Merrill in the fifth, both off left-hander Hogan Harris.

Harris allowed four hits in five innings. He struck out five and walked one.