ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP)—Bench coach Rene Lacheman brought Oakland’s lineup card to home plate instead of manager Ken Macha, who normally does it for the first game of a series.
The Athletics were 1-5 in series openers, so Macha wanted to change his team’s luck. It worked, but it wasn’t easy.
The A’s went 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position before Scott Hatteberg hit a two-run single off Francisco Rodriguez with two outs in the ninth inning, sending Oakland to a 4-3 victory over the Los Angeles Angels on Friday night.
The streak ended in the ninth.
Mark Kotsay and Marco Scutaro opened the inning with singles before Rodriguez (1-1) struck out Eric Chavez and Erubiel Durazo. Both runners advanced on a wild pitch as strike three to Durazo got away from catcher Jose Molina. Hatteberg then slapped Rodriguez’s 93 mph fastball the other way to left field on an 0-2 count, scoring both runners.
“I just reacted on the fastball,” Hatteberg said. “I didn’t know what he was going to throw—0-2 is usually kind of a waste pitch. But it was over the plate and someplace he probably didn’t want to put it. I really was surprised.
“It’s a good confidence builder when you come back against that guy on the mound—which doesn’t happen very often. We had some good at-bats against a very good pitcher,” he said.
Rodriguez, who converted his three previous save opportunities, is in his third full season in the majors and first as a full-time closer. The Angels decided he was ready for the role and chose not to re-sign the club’s career saves leader, Troy Percival.
“I think every save he’s gotten so far has been a tough save, but that’s the life of a closer,” Angels center fielder Steve Finley said. “I mean, you can’t go out there and throw zeros all year. Games like this are going to happen.”
Dotel struck out Jeff DaVanon with a runner on second to end it.
Chone Figgins led off the Angels’ sixth with a single against Kirk Saarloos, stole second, advanced on Vladimir Guerrero’s infield hit and scored on Garret Anderson’s groundout, giving the Angels a 3-2 lead.
Angels starter John Lackey threw 105 pitches in five innings and left with the score tied at 2. He was charged with one earned run and six hits, but it was his fielding error that resulted in an unearned run in the second.
Saarloos allowed three runs and seven hits in 5 1-3 innings with no walks or strikeouts. He has allowed 14 earned runs in 14 innings over his last three starts after pitching six sharp innings in a 9-0 victory at Baltimore in his season debut.
The Angels, who beat out the Athletics for the AL West title on the next-to-last day of last season, scored twice in the second to take a 2-1 lead.
Orlando Cabrera singled, advanced to third on Dallas McPherson’s double and came home on Molina’s groundout. Then Scutaro ran under DaVanon’s popup and into foul territory, lunging in vain for the ball as it fell in short left field for a double as McPherson scored.
DaVanon, the Angels’ designated hitter, was dropped from second to ninth in the order by manager Mike Scioscia after getting only four hits in his previous 29 at-bats.
“It doesn’t matter where I hit,” DaVanon said. “A No. 9 hitter can produce and set the table just as well as the No. 2 hitter. Everything’s magnified because it’s the beginning of the season, but hopefully things will turn around.”
Oakland loaded the bases with none out in the second with two singles and an ugly fielding error by the 6-foor-6 Lackey, who completely missed Ellis’ two-hopper as he bent down to field it. The only run of the inning came in when Lackey’s 2-2 pitch hit Kielty on the right foot with one out, forcing in Durazo.
Oakland SS Bobby Crosby, last season’s AL Rookie of the Year, agreed to a $12.75 million, five-year contract. He is on the disabled list with stress fractures in two ribs after getting injured on opening day. … Angels 2B Adam Kennedy, who had reconstructive surgery on his right knee last October, was assigned to Triple-A Salt Lake and will begin a rehab assignment on Saturday. … Guerrero was 2-for-3 against Saarloos and is 8-for-12 lifetime against him.