ANAHEIM (AP) — If the AL West race turns out to be as close as these three games, the Oakland Athletics and Los Angeles Angels will be battling down to the wire come September.
After winning the series opener in the ninth inning on a pinch-two-run homer by John Jaso and the next one on Josh Donaldson’s RBI double in the 11th, the Athletics were denied a sweep Wednesday night by Howie Kendrick’s run-scoring fielder’s choice grounder in the ninth and Chris Iannetta’s two-out home run in the 12th off Drew Pomeranz. The 5-4 loss snapped Oakland’s four-game winning streak.
“We went to the ninth inning with the lead, but you put it behind you and move on,” manager Bob Melvin said. “We weren’t very good defensively tonight.”
Oakland left-hander Tommy Milone was charged with three runs — two earned — and six hits over six-plus innings in his second start and departed with a 4-1 lead thanks to Brandon Moss’s three-run homer in the fourth.
Los Angeles closed to 4-3 in the seventh with a pair of runs after a costly throwing error by first baseman and former Angel Alberto Callaspo, who had never played that position in the majors or the minors until this season.
Dan Otero relieved Milone with two on and none out and Erick Aybar grounded into a force at second. J.B. Shuck followed with a grounder to Callaspo, who tried to start an inning-ending 3-6-3 double play. But his hurried throw couldn’t be handled by shortstop Nick Punto, and Iannetta scored from third. Albert Pujols added an RBI single one out later.
“They don’t want to lose to us and we don’t want to lose to them. There’s a lot of fight on both sides,” Smith said. “They won the division the last two years, and obviously that’s our goal this year. So we’ve got to beat them to do it, and both teams are going to battle. And when we get a couple of guys back off the DL, we’re going to be even better.”
Angels manager Mike Scioscia got six scoreless innings out of his much-maligned bullpen, as the Athletics stranded runners in scoring position in the 10th, 11th and 12th. Smith (1-0), who failed to retire any of the five batters he faced in the eighth inning of the Angels’ 10-9 loss on Tuesday night, pitched a scoreless inning for the victory.
“We played tough baseball games against those guys, but luckily Chris stepped it up and hit a big-time homer,” Smith said. “We should have had those first two games, too. They were right there for us to take.”
Callaspo also dropped a relay throw from second baseman Eric Sogard on a potential double-play grounder in the sixth by Freese. But the next batter, Ibanez, grounded into a 4-6-3 DP to end the inning.
In the 12th, Pomeranz (1-1) retired David Freese on a grounder to second base and Raul Ibanez on a foul pop to the catcher before Iannetta drove the next pitch to center field and just out of the reach of a leaping Craig Gentry, ending Oakland’s four-game winning streak.
“It never gets old — your first one, your last one, whatever it may be. It’s an awesome feeling,” Iannetta said. “I know I hit it really well. But Angel Stadium at night, you never know — and Gentry’s a really good outfielder. He almost jumped out of the gym on that one. I think it went off his glove, so I was very thankful that he didn’t make an awesome play.”
NOTES: Pinch-hitter Coco Crisp, who didn’t start in any of the three games because of tightness in his left hamstring, drew a leadoff walk in the 11th and stole second one out later to pass Reggie Jackson for fifth place in Oakland history at 145. … The A’s claimed RHP Marcus Walden off waivers from Toronto and optioned him to Triple-A Sacramento. … The Angels will honor the late Jim Fregosi during a two-game interleague series against Philadelphia Aug. 12-13. Fregosi, who died Feb. 14 at age 71, was a six-time All-Star who spent his first 11 big league seasons as an Angels SS and managed them to their first division title in 1979. He also piloted the Phillies to a pennant in 1993.
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