Athletics 3, Angels 0

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OAKLAND, Calif. (AP)—Ted Lilly walked off the field and quickly found himself a seat next to manager Ken Macha in the dugout to get an explanation.

When he was pitching so well, why in the world did he have to come out so soon?

Lilly won his career-best fourth straight start and Erubiel Durazo went 3-for-4 with a double to lead the Oakland Athletics to a 3-0 win over the Anaheim Angels on Wednesday night.

The A’s desperately needed a strong pitching performance, and Lilly calmly delivered—for 5 1-3 innings, then four relievers sealed the deal.

“Initially, I didn’t agree with it,” Lilly said of Macha’s decision. “I didn’t really understand it. The decision came down to matchups. … If there’s any point in the season you’d like to be feeling good and pitching well, it’s now.”

He retired the first seven Angels hitters and nine of the first 10 batters as the A’s won for the second straight night against Anaheim following a frustrating three-game losing streak. Oakland remains 2 1/2 games ahead of Seattle in the AL West—its biggest edge in the division since April 10—after the Mariners beat Texas 3-1.

Durazo, batting in the second spot in the order for the fourth time this year, is 10-for-45 (.222) with one RBI in his last 14 games, but is showing signs that he’s working out of his offensive funk.

Lilly (10-9) gave the A’s their second impressive outing by a starter in as many nights. Justin Duchscherer pitched seven scoreless innings in Tuesday’s 8-1 victory.

Lilly, who improved to 3-0 against the Angels this season, is 5-1 over his last 10 games (nine starts). He allowed four hits, striking out five and walking one. Chad Bradford, John Halama, Jim Mecir and Keith Foulke completed the shutout, with Foulke earning his 40th save in 45 chances.

Reigning AL Cy Young winner Barry Zito, Tim Hudson and Rich Harden all lost their starts during the three-game losing streak, so the A’s are aiming to get back into a pitching rhythm during the postseason push.

“He doesn’t have to prove anything,” Macha said of Lilly. “He’s gone out and gotten four consecutive great starts when we needed them.”

Durazo was 1-for-8 (.125) lifetime against Anaheim starter Jarrod Washburn (10-14) before this game. Durazo singled in the first and fourth innings and doubled in the fifth.

“Right now, I have the best stuff probably I’ve ever had,” Washburn said. “It’s just not showing in the win-loss column.”

The A’s tagged Washburn for three straight hits to start their three-run fourth inning, including a run-scoring triple to the wall in center by Eric Chavez after Durazo’s single. Miguel Tejada followed with an RBI double to the wall in left-center to score Chavez and Scott Hatteberg’s groundout moved Tejada to third. Jose Guillen then doubled to the wall in left-center to score Tejada and make it 3-0.

Tejada managed only his second hit in 41 at-bats against Washburn, who gave up seven hits in seven innings, striking out seven and walked none.

“I know in my career I’ve been bad against him,” Tejada said. “Today’s a new day.”

When asked how Washburn pitches to him, Tejada said: “Yeah, work me, the way he’s supposed to do it.”

The Angels had runners on second and third with two outs in the fifth after A’s catcher Ramon Hernandez made an errant throw to first trying to pick off Adam Kennedy. The ball got past Hatteberg at first base and traveled into the outfield, allowing the runners to advance. Lilly struck out Chone Figgins looking to escape the jam.

Only four Anaheim baserunners got past first.

“We got part of the equation right. We had our chances early,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “We got leadoff hitters on, but we couldn’t get that hit with guys in scoring position.”

Jermaine Dye made a great catch against the wall in right field on a hard-hit ball by Garret Anderson in the sixth. Dye was plunked in the ribs inthe fourth by Washburn.

Notes

Lilly has won three straight starts twice, during his most recent streak and also from Sept. 28, 2002 to April 25, 2003. During his last four wins, he has a 1.48 ERA. … Kennedy stole his 20th and 21st bases of the season, both in the third inning. … Angels C Jose Molina is yet to walk this season in 107 plate appearances. He walked five times last year. … Washburn fell to 0-2 this year against the A’s, who he hasn’t beaten since April 19, 2002. … Anaheim’s David Eckstein went 0-for-2 in his first start after being activated from the disabled list Tuesday. He’d been on the DL since Aug. 19 with nerve irritation in his right hamstring. … The A’s lead the season series against the Angels 9-7. Anaheim hasn’t won a road series since going 6-0in Oakland in 1997 or an overall season series since 1999 (8-4).

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