That was the fate of the struggling A's on Wednesday, when Melky Cabrera's second long ball of a long afternoon came with one out in the bottom of the 14th inning to give the hosts a 9-7 victory in the finale of a two-game series at Yankee Stadium.
After winning the opener of a three-game series in Toronto on Friday, Oakland dropped its final four of the trip and limped home at 5-9 overall. The other three losses were by a total of five runs, and one was a 12-inning affair that ended with a two-run homer off Dan Giese, who had been called up from Triple-A earlier that day.
"It was tough," said rookie left-hander Brett Anderson, who had the worst of his three starts this season but was long gone by the time Cabrera hammered a misplaced fastball from former teammate Giese into the right-field bleachers.
"Especially to have so many close games and come up on the short end of the stick."
Oakland's previously silent sticks weren't the primary problem Wednesday. They maintained the modicum of momentum that came with a 12-hit attack in Tuesday's loss and got an early jump on New York ace CC Sabathia, who signed a seven-year, $161 million contract in the offseason.
After a leadoff walk to Matt Holliday and a single by Jack Cust in the top of the second inning, Sabathia surrendered a three-run homer to left field by Kurt Suzuki. Oakland's first long ball in seven games was caught by a fan near the wall and disputed by Yankees left fielder Johnny Damon, but it was quickly upheld after umpires took a look at a replay.
"That definitely was a boost," Suzuki said of his first homer of the year. "We tried to get on CC early, and we did."
New York got two runs back in the bottom of the frame when Hideki Matsui and Cabrera homered on consecutive pitches from Anderson, and after Cust's RBI groundout in the top of the third, the Yankees evened things up with two runs in their half.
Derek Jeter's fourth-inning homer off Anderson put the hosts in front, but the A's tied it with Mark Ellis' RBI single in the top of the sixth. New York took the lead again in the bottom half on an RBI double from Jeter and an RBI single from Mark Teixeira, and Oakland tied it back up in the seventh, getting an RBI groundout from Jason Giambi and an RBI single from Holliday.
Sabathia gave up six earned runs on six hits and four walks over 6 2/3 innings.
"To get that many runs off a pitcher as quality as CC is definitely a positive," Suzuki said.
Anderson's outing was definitely not positive. Winless in three starts this season, he saw his ERA jump to 5.89 after allowing five runs on nine hits and a walk over 5 1/3 innings. Unable to harness his slider, Anderson was particularly peeved by giving up the second-inning homers.
"When your team scored three runs off CC Sabathia, you want to put up a zero," he said.
Asked to assess his outing as a whole, Anderson put it simply.
"I just gave up too many hits," he said.
For seven innings, starting with the seventh and ending just after the time-honored 14th-inning stretch, the A's bullpen gave up all of three hits. Two of them were allowed by Russ Springer, who got out of the bases-loaded, nobody-out jam he created in the seventh to get the string of zeroes.
Andrew Bailey (eighth inning), Brad Ziegler (ninth and 10th) and Josh Outman (11th) held the Yankees hitless, and Giese, who was waived by the Yankees this spring, allowed one hit while cruising through the 12th and 13th.
"Our bullpen has been good this whole road trip," A's manager Bob Geren said.
Giese, however, walked Nick Swisher to open the bottom of the fateful 14th, and Cabrera's walk-off shot ended what everyone in the A's dugout apparently knew was going to be a test of patience.
"Our players were going back into the clubhouse and grabbing some quick snacks, knowing they were in for a long one," Geren explained.
As they quietly dressed and paid their clubhouse dues before heading for the airport and a long flight back to the Bay Area, Geren's players did their best to provide a positive perspective on the trip. But whatever favorable light they tried to cast upon it was dim at best.
"It's a rough road trip, but what can you do?" Suzuki offered. "You run into good teams and good pitching, and things don't always go your way."
Geren raved about the effort of his players and coaches, saying he'd take it "every single game," but Giese didn't even try to put a happy face on his performance.
"It's pretty frustrating," he said. "Coming to a new team, you want to establish yourself. Getting two losses on the road isn't the way to do it."
Mychael Urban is a national writer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.