BALTIMORE — Nelson Cruz thought he had a shot at scoring.
The Baltimore Orioles slugger found himself on third base with two outs in the bottom of the 10th inning after teammate Adam Jones had nearly just won them the game.
But Jones' single couldn't score Nick Markakis from second, as he was thrown out at the plate.
So Cruz was on third with Oakland Athletics left-hander Fernando Abad on the mound facing Baltimore strongman Chris Davis, and third baseman Josh Donaldson nowhere near the bag. Cruz bolted home before the pitch, attempting a rare straight steal of home.
But the risky play failed.
That led to an Oakland rally the following half-inning, with another rare defensive miscue by J.J. Hardy, and the Athletics came away with a 4-3 win in 11 innings before 28,076 at Camden Yards Friday night.
"It was there. It was in front of everybody," Cruz said of his steal attempt. "I thought I had a shot, so I went for it."
The Orioles (30-29) nearly won it before that on Jones' hit. But Athletics right fielder Brandon Moss gunned down Markakis at the plate on a play so close it required an instant-replay review.
In the 11th, Oakland pinch-hitter John Jaso singled to right-center off Baltimore reliever Evan Meek (0-2), who had just been recalled from Class-AAA Norfolk Friday. After Meek struck out Moss, Alberto Callaspo hit a groundball to the Gold Glover Hardy.
But Hardy, briefly looking at third to see if he had a play on Jaso, mishandled the ball and dropped it without making a throw.
"I got to watch the ball in," Hardy said. "I tried to be too quick and was thinking about throwing to third."
That led to pinch-hitter Stephen Vogt lining a single to left, scoring Jaso from third, and giving the Athletics (38-23) a 4-3 lead.
Hardy typically doesn't make mistakes with the glove. But on Thursday against Texas, the Baltimore shortstop had his first career three-error game. Friday's error made it four in a two-day span.
"It's a tough couple days for him. That sucks," Orioles third baseman Manny Machado said. "Obviously you're pissed off at the moment, but you've just got to put it behind you like he does with all the other ones."
Machado had his own reasons to be upset earlier in the game. In the bottom of the third, he was on second base with two outs when Jones hit a groundball to Donaldson at third base.
Machado tried to evade the tag from Donaldson, but was tagged and stumbled backwards onto the ground. When Machado got to his feet, he was not pleased with Donaldson and got into his face as the dugouts and bullpens cleared.
"He made the right play, but just didn't agree on the tag that he made on me and I just had to get up and confront him," Machado said. "You get in the heat of the moment and things start flying."
In the fifth, Machado hit a solo homer to left-center that gave Baltimore a 3-2 lead. That would not hold however, as reliever Darren O'Day gave up just his third run of the season on a Yoenis Cespedes RBI double that tied the game 3-3.
Abad (1-2) went on to pick up the win for the A's and Sean Doolittle struck out Chris Davis, Hardy, and Steve Pearce all swinging in the bottom of the 11th to earn his eighth save.
Orioles starter Wei-Yin Chen had his fourth quality start of the season, giving up two runs on five hits in 6 1-3 innings.
Meanwhile, Oakland starter Tommy Milone gave up three runs in six innings, also earning a no-decision.
Baltimore had a solid night offensively, collecting 13 hits which included three from Hardy.
Davis hit his ninth homer of the year early, and it looked as if the pitching was going to be good enough to get the Orioles a win in the series opener.
But things didn't go Baltimore's way during extra innings.
A few miscues occurred, and the Orioles fell to the club with the best record in the American League.
"It was all there. We had it from the get-go. Tough loss," Machado said.
"Things weren't falling into place for us and that's just part of the game. That's how things happen, and you've just got to forget about it and come back tomorrow and get a win."