A’s top Angels in AL West clash
OAKLAND, Calif. -- The Oakland Athletics and Los Angeles Angels were headed in opposite directions approaching the opener Friday night of their three-game series at the O.co Coliseum.
The A’s had lost eight of their past 10 games, squandering what had been a four-game lead in the American League West on Aug. 10. The Angels had won eight out of 10, passing the A’s and taking a two-game lead.
For one night at least, the A’s and Angels reversed course.
Right-hander Sonny Gray allowed three runs on six hits over 8 1/3 innings, and Oakland beat the first-place Angels 5-3, cutting their lead to one game.
Oakland (75-52) ended the Angels’ four-game winning streak. The A’s and Angels (76-51) began a crucial 10-day stretch in which they’ll face each other seven times, the first three games in Oakland and the final four at Anaheim.
A’s center fielder Coco Crisp hit a leadoff home run in the first inning, doubled in the fifth and scored twice. Right fielder Sam Fuld had an RBI triple in the sixth and scored a run, and first baseman Stephen Vogt hit a solo home run in the eighth.
“That was a huge game for us,” said A’s closer Sean Doolittle, who earned a high-stress 19th save. “Coco setting the tone right off the bat. Fuld had a huge hit. ... Sonny did what he always does. He stayed poised. That was one of his best ball games of the year.”
Gray (13-7) ended his career-high four-game losing streak and earned his first victory since July 26 at Texas. He struck out five and walked two and left the game to a loud standing ovation from a crowd of 33,801.
“Everything felt good -- fastball, curveball, changeup,” Gray said. “For the most part, I was putting it where I wanted to.”
With a runner on first and one out in the ninth, Doolittle struck out second baseman Howie Kendrick for the second out, but he gave up a single to shortstop Erick Aybar and an RBI single to third baseman David Freese. Then he walked pinch hitter Collin Cowgill, loading the bases. Doolittle struck out pinch hitter Chris Iannetta to end the game.
“They battled,” Doolittle said of the Angels. “That right there is an example of why they’ve been so successful lately, winning a lot of close games, coming from behind in a lot of games to get the win.”
Center fielder Mike Trout and left fielder Josh Hamilton hit solo home runs for the Angels.
Angels right-hander Hector Santiago allowed two runs, just one of them earned, over five innings and got his fourth straight no-decision. He struck out five, walked two and held the A’s to one or no earned runs for the third straight start this season.
“There were a lot of good things on the field and some things we didn’t get done,” said Angels manager Mike Scioscia, whose team is 0-4 this season at the Coliseum. “We couldn’t get the big hit at the end. We haven’t gotten it done up here yet this season.”
The A’s scored twice in the sixth off reliever Jason Grilli (1-4), snapping a 2-2 tie and taking a 4-2 lead. Second baseman Alberto Callaspo hit an infield single with one out, and Fuld brought him home with a triple to the right-center field alley. Fuld scored on Parrino’s sacrifice fly. Vogt extended the A’s lead to 5-2, hitting a one-out home run off reliever Cam Bedrosian.
“I think tonight we did a good job of just worrying about winning tonight, and that’s our goal,” Fuld said. “Take it one game at a time. But yeah, given our struggles of late, it’s great to get that first one of the series under our belt.”
The Angels had just two hits off Gray over the first four innings, but they were both solo home runs, the first by Trout and the second by Hamilton. Trout put the Angels ahead 1-0 in the top of the first with his 28th home run of the season, golfing Gray’s 1-1 curve over the high wall in left-center.
The A’s pulled even in the bottom of the first on Crisp’s 15th career leadoff home run. He sent Santiago’s 1-2 fastball over the left-center fence, following Trout’s lead.
“Trout has given us some trouble before,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “And then to turn it around and Coco hits the home run . That was huge. That’s like, all right, we’re fine.”
The Angels grabbed a 2-1 lead with one out in the top of the fourth on Hamilton’s ninth home run of the season and first since Aug. 4.
Oakland answered with an unearned run in the fifth. Crisp lined a ground rule double that one-hopped the fence down the left-field line. After left fielder Craig Gentry walked, third baseman Josh Donaldson lined a shot up the middle that ricocheted off Santiago’s left hand to second baseman Kendrick. Kendrick got the force at second, but shortstop Aybar threw wildly past first baseman Albert Pujols and into the A’s dugout for an error as Crisp came home.
Santiago finished the inning but didn’t return for the sixth.
“It’s a little sore, but I‘m good to go,” Santiago said. “I couldn’t get a good grip on my off-speed stuff, and I didn’t want to become a one-pitch guy. This series is too important.”
NOTES: Angels RHP Garrett Richards (torn left patellar tendon) underwent season-ending knee surgery Friday. “They said the surgery was as they expected and they’re very happy with the repair and hopefully the rehab will go very well,” manager Mike Scioscia said before the game. “Same timetable they gave us before the surgery, six to nine months.” ... The A’s activated OF Craig Gentry (broken right hand) from the 15-day disabled list and optioned RHP Dan Otero to Triple-A Sacramento.