Los Angeles (91-69) at Oakland (90-70)

Cloudy Currently: Oakland, CA
Temp: 58° F
  • Game info: 4:05 pm EDT Sat Oct 2, 2004
Preview | Box Score | Recap

The last time Barry Zito pitched with the Oakland Athletics’ season on the line, he failed.

The left-hander will try to preserve Oakland’s hopes of winning the AL West as they continue their season-ending three-game series with the Anaheim Angels.

The A’s and Angels entered this critical weekend set in a dead heat for first place in the division. But Anaheim gained the upper hand in a big way Friday night, rolling to a 10-0 victory in the opener.

Bartolo Colon, working on three days’ rest, pitched seven innings of three-hit ball as the Angels chased Mark Mulder after two innings to take a one-game lead with two to play.

“It means a lot that we’re able to get the first one out of the way, but nothing’s been won,” Colon said. “I have been through it before. Nobody’s celebrating. It’s not over yet.”

Alfredo Amezaga hit a grand slam off reliever Joe Blanton in the sixth for the Angels, who can wrap up their first division title since 1986 with a victory Saturday or Sunday.

“Not a very pleasant evening,” Oakland manager Ken Macha said. “After we got behind four runs, we felt we weren’t in position to give up any more, and that’s why we went to the bullpen. … He sat on the bench for three innings and rooted for the team. We’ve had tough losses all season but we’ve rebounded from them before.”

Zito will try to put the A’s back on course for their third straight West crown and fifth consecutive postseason appearance.

The 2002 AL Cy Young winner had a chance to pitch the A’s to the AL championship series last October, but suffered a 5-4 loss to Boston in the decisive fifth game of the ALDS. Oakland has failed to advance beyond the first round in each of the previous four years, but will need Zito to come up big just to get to the playoffs this time around.

“They got the momentum and we’ve exhausted all of our options,” Oakland’s Mark Kotsay said. “We know what we have to do.”

The Angels will counter with right-hander Kelvim Escobar, also working on short rest, as they try to return to the postseason for the first time since 2002, when they rode a wild-card berth all the way to their first-ever World Series title.

If the A’s win Saturday, everything will come down to the series finale Sunday—a matchup of Oakland’s Tim Hudson and Anaheim’s Jarrod Washburn.

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Starting Pitchers

K. Escobar NYM vs. B. Zito SF
11-12 Record 11-11
3.93 ERA 4.48
191 K 163
76 BB 81
1.29 WHIP 1.39