The ninth inning of this ballgame was like a completely different game. Both teams scored three runs. Unfortunately for the A's, that was not enough. I have to question Howe's decision to let Left-handed Terrence Long bat against the left-handed Guardado with one out in the ninth and the A's trailing by a run. He was already 0-for-3 on the day and even though he bats equally well (or poorly) against left-heanders, why not go to Eric Byrnes (who can play centerfield if they tie it up) in that situation. Perhaps Howe would have gone to Olmeda Saenz in that situation but his injury earlier in the series prevented that. Not having Saenz hurt the A's all day as their lefties who were pressed into action went hitless against Radke.
The other strategy that backfired on Howe was going with closer Billy Koch in the ninth. Koch proceeded to walk his first batter and then give up a homer to the second, basically sealing Oakland's fate. He did get the next two out, but when Christian Guzman singled, that should have been it for Koch. Howe let him walk the next batter and then give up what ended up to be the winning run on double to Ortiz. Everyone but the two pitchers used today and Hudson, who started yesterday (and maybe Ted Lilley who relieved him for 3.1), should have been available. Cory Lidle who pitched so well for the A's during their streak was only used for 1 inning in the whole series.
A's fans may be calling for Koch's head but if the A's offense had done something against Radke during the first 8 innings, then they still could have won. Besides Howe should not have allowed him to get as roughed up as he did. Why stick with a closer who obviously doesn't have it when you're down to your last three outs?