Yoenis Cespedes, Brian Matusz

Brian Matusz watches Oakland's Yoenis Cespedes round the bases after he hit a two-run homer off the O's reliever. (Thearon W. Henderson / Getty Images / April 28, 2013)

Throwing a game away — literally — doesn’t usually sit well with teams, especially when they are attempting to establish themselves as consistent winners.

So when the Orioles dropped a 9-8, 10-inning loss to the Oakland A’s Sunday afternoon on consecutive poor throws following sacrifice bunt attempts, it would be understandable if the players were chewing nails in post-game interviews.

For the most part, that was not the case — not after the Orioles (15-10) took three of four in their personal pain chamber, the Oakland Coliseum, to kick off a brutal, three-city, 11-game West Coast swing.

“Real proud of how we played here in Oakland,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “We presented ourselves well here and we’ll move on.”

The Orioles were two outs in the ninth away from just their second four-game sweep of the Oakland A’s — the other was at the Coliseum in May 1987 — in the history of the clubs.

But budding superstar Yoenis Cespedes, who was in his first game back from the disabled list with a strained muscle in his hand, lifted a low changeup from reliever Brian Matusz and planted it over the left field wall to tie the game at 8-8 in the bottom of the ninth.

“He took the wind out of our sails,” said Orioles first baseman Chris Davis, who broke a 6-6 tie in the eighth with his American League-leading ninth home run of the season. “When [Cespedes] hit that ball, I’m like, ‘Are you kidding me?’ He is a good player.”

Normally, the left-handed Matusz would not be pitching in such a situation, especially against a right-handed slugger such as Cespedes.

But closer Jim Johnson had pitched in five of the past six games and Showalter, who manages a bullpen throughout a full season as well as anyone in baseball, was not going to overuse his closer for the sake of potentially getting an April win.

“It’s a little different chain when you need to give Jim a day. But we definitely needed to do that. That was a very easy decision. The tough decision was pitching him [Saturday] afternoon,” Showalter said. “You just don’t do those things. Because when [Johnson] is gone, you kind of see. You can’t pitch six out of seven days, you just can’t do it. I’m not going to do it. You pay the price.”

Showalter had few other options besides Matusz: Darren O’Day had already pitched, Tommy Hunter was being held out in case he was needed in long relief Sunday or Monday if Zach Britton doesn’t go deep.

Right-hander Pedro Strop, who entered the day with an 8.22 ERA, was warming in the bullpen, but Showalter chose Matusz, the converted starter who had been one of the club’s best relievers.

Strop picked up a key strikeout against Oriole killer Josh Reddick to finish the ninth, but he started the 10th with a single to Eric Sogard.

And that’s when things got a little crazy.

The next batter, Adam Rosales, dropped a bunt that Strop fielded quickly. Instead of taking the easy out, he threw to second — with the ball sailing into center field

With runners on first and second, the A’s bunted again. This time Coco Crisp pushed one down to the left side of the infield and Manny Machado pounced on it.

His throw to shortstop J.J. Hardy, who was covering third, bounced into left field. It took Sogard a moment to notice where the ball went. Once he did, he dashed home, ahead of the throw from left fielder Nate McLouth for the winning run.

Just your traditional, walkoff sac bunt/error.

“We were trying to make the plays and unfortunately we didn’t complete it, bad execution. The balls were right there, just bad throws. That happens,” Strop said. “It’s tough. It’s a tough one to swallow because the guys were hitting the ball pretty well, playing so hard.”

Afterward, Showalter lauded Strop and Machado for trying to make the aggressive play, something the club practiced continually in spring training.