Angels 4, Athletics 3
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP)—Tim Salmon took some practice cuts in the clubhouse before the first pitch, then made his swings count during the game.
With a pregame parade of Little Leaguers moving batting practice indoors, Salmon found some space to swing a bat.
“At that point it’s just getting loose,” he said. “There’s no room to loosen up around the cage.”
Salmon, hitless in his previous 13 at-bats, hit the first pitch he saw from Rich Harden in the sixth inning halfway up the walkway in left field to erase a one-run deficit and send Anaheim to its season-best fourth straight victory.
“He’s a dangerous hitter any time,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “He can break open a game on any at-bat. He’s struggling now, but he never gets off to a good start. We’re seeing things with his swing now, and we’ll stick with him.”
The Athletics were swept at home for the first time since May 2002, a span of 49 series. It was the Angels’ first sweep in Oakland since July 1997.
Ramon Ortiz pitched five strong innings before turning the game over to Anaheim’s stellar bullpen, which again shut down the Oakland offense.
“This team we just played is the best in the AL,” Oakland third baseman Eric Chavez said. “I’m not making any excuses. They took it to us.”
Ortiz (1-2) allowed two runs on five hits with three walks and six strikeouts in his best start of the season. He allowed 15 runs in his previous 10 2-3 innings. This effort lowered his ERA to 9.76 from 12.66.
“It shows we’re playing better and that’s a good sign,” Percival said.
The Angels’ bullpen did not give up an earned run in 12 innings during the series.
“You’re talking about a bullpen which wants the ball at every opportunity,” Percival said. “Guys are starting to get the workload they like. Frankie was throwing the ball well. He dominated with his fastball.”
Chavez also was impressed by Rodriguez.
“He’s unhittable right now; he’s filthy,” Chavez said. “The kid is making his own statement.”
The Angels took a 1-0 lead in the first when David Eckstein reached on a fielding error by second baseman Frank Menechino, went to third on Chone Figgins’ single and scored on Harden’s balk, the first of his career.
“It just seems to be a few pitches that have hurt me the last couple of starts,” Harden said.
Salmon reached base in all four trips to the plate, also walking twice and reaching on an error by shortstop Marco Scutaro.
Harden (0-2) allowed four runs and six hits in 5 2-3 innings. He walked twoand struck out four.
Angels OF Garret Anderson (stiff back) has missed four straight games for the first time in his career. … Oakland SS Bobby Crosby (right knee) and OF Bobby Kielty (sore ribs) each missed their fifth straight game after colliding against Seattle on Tuesday. … Salmon needs 10 homers for 300. … Anaheim OF Vladimir Guerrero sat out to rest a sore right knee. … Harden lost to the Angels for the first time in four career starts. … Kotsay reachedsafely leading off the game in his last six starts.