The hottest team in the major leagues has won 10 of its last 12 contests to move one-half game ahead of the Astros and sit two games behind first-place Texas in the AL West heading into Wednesday’s series finale against the visiting Oakland Athletics, who have lost four straight and nine of their last 10.The Angels extended their winning streak to seven games with Tuesday’s 8-1 victory and could receive a boost with the return of setup man Joe Smith, who has been out since September 18 with a sprained left ankle.
Mark Canha had an RBI single before Josh Reddick drew a bases-loaded walk to tie it, and Vogt delivered a two-out, two-strike single. Center fielder Mike Trout got it started with a double, and Pujols doubled Trout home. “With the more wins we get and more losses they have it’s easier on us. Runs have been a little scarce for us, but it was a good night to keep the pressure on those guys.”. But the left-handed hitting second baseman whipped his bat through the strike zone on an 0-2 pitch, lined a ball that landed barely fair down the right field line and cleared the bases as Oakland took a 3-1 lead on Zito’s behalf.
The Angels bullpen and the defense, though, could not hold the lead, denying Richards his 16th win. He struck out seven. All three runs were charged to Mujica, and the A’s once again trailed 5-3. Manager Bob Melvin had mentioned a 70-pitch limit for Zito, who wound up throwing 76.
Richards yielded no earned runs, but walked four and gave up Sogard’s big two-out hit in the fourth to cap a rally aided by Giavotella’s error.
“If you watched us the first couple of times through the order off him, we didn’t even really put good swings together”, Stephen Vogt said. Johnny Giavotella hit a go-ahead homer in the sixth, but the Angels couldn’t overcome those four errors in a baffling five-inning span for the team that had allowed the fewest unearned runs in the AL. Oakland added another run in the eighth, which featured C.J. Cron’s error and Trout’s awful misplay on a hit to center that was ruled a triple. He has been hurt by poor run support all season, but he didn’t give himself a chance this time.
Barry Zito pitched four innings in perhaps the final start of his major league career, leaving with a lead despite yielding four hits and four walks. The runs scored on solo homers by Trout (No. 41) and Freese (No. 14).
He pitched once in relief, then on Saturday made what he thought was going to be his final start, pitching in Oakland against former A’s teammate Tim Hudson, now with the Giants. They trailed, 8-6, facing Oakland closer Sean Doolittle in the bottom of the ninth inning. The relievers are 8-2 with a 3.51 ERA for the last 22 games. Down 3-2 in the sixth, the Angels got a rally started with two outs and nobody on base.