Angels 2, Athletics 1
ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP)—By his own admission, John Lackey usually has a tough time at the beginning of the season.
That’s not the case this year, although at least two members of the Oakland Athletics weren’t particularly impressed with his latest outing.
Lackey scattered seven hits in seven innings, and the Los Angeles Angels took advantage of some shoddy Oakland baserunning to beat the Athletics 2-1 Saturday night for their fifth win in six games.
The Angels are off to their best start since 1991, when they also won five of their first six.
“We’re not looking at standings. We’re not adding up any wins yet,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “We’re just trying to play good baseball.”
Lackey (2-0) gave up one run, struck out six and walked none. The 28-year-old right-hander has a 10-2 career record against the A’s.
“It’s kind of different for me. I usually take one or two to get my feet wet,” Lackey said. “We’ve got a long way to go.
“You’ve got to throw strikes against these guys. They try to work you.”
Oakland’s Milton Bradley, who went hitless in four at-bats, made no attempt to hide his upset feelings afterward.
“I’ve seen him a lot better,” Bradley said of Lackey. “I did nothing to help the team. It’s just embarrassing, frustrating. I can’t really put a finger on what happened. There’s no way Dan should have lost this game.”
With the Angels leading 2-1, the A’s blew a big opportunity in the seventh. Eric Chavez led off with a double, and after Nick Swisher was hit by a pitch, Mark Ellis failed to make contact while trying to bunt a 2-0 pitch that appeared to be out of the strike zone, and Chavez was caught off second base.
“It was a bunt play. When you’re running at second, it’s tough,” Ellis said. “You want to get a good jump.
“I’m sure it was a ball. I like to bunt pitches up there. Obviously, not that one. It’s just one of those plays that didn’t go our way. Usually I get the ball down—I’m a pretty good bunter.”
The A’s also missed a scoring chance in the fifth when Ellis led off with a single, stole second while Buck was striking out and took third on a throwing error by catcher Mike Napoli. But Scutaro grounded to shortstop with the infield in, and Orlando Cabrera easily threw out Ellis at the plate.
Ellis agreed with Bradley as far as Lackey was concerned.
“I would say he would probably say he wasn’t as sharp as he usually is,” Ellis said. “He was still very good.”
Hector Carrasco pitched a perfect eighth, and Scot Shields worked the ninth for his first save. Angels closer Francisco Rodriguez had pitched in four of his team’s previous five games and was fighting a cold.
Jason Kendall’s two-out RBI single in the third gave the A’s a 1-0 lead. Guerrero hit a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the inning, giving him at least one RBI in each of the Angels’ six games. He also has at least one hit in every game.
The Angels scored an unearned run in the sixth to break the tie. Garret Anderson doubled, took third on Casey Kotchman’s infield hit and scored on shortstop Scutaro’s throwing error. Kotchman was thrown out trying to take second on the play.
Haren allowed six hits and two runs, one earned, in seven innings. Oakland starters have allowed eight earned runs in 37 innings this season.
The game was played before a sellout crowd of 44,007. The Angels have averaged just over 40,000 through six home games. … A’s SS Bobby Crosby, who left Friday night’s game after five innings because of back spasms, said he felt much better and hopes to be in the lineup Sunday. “It’s not related to my other back injury,” he said. “I’ve had this before. I’m not overly concerned about it.” He pinch ran in the ninth inning. … Angels INF/DH Shea Hillenbrand missed his fourth straight game because of tightness in his right groin. Scioscia said it’s possible Hillenbrand will start Sunday. “I think he’s very close,” Scioscia said. … Bradley returned to the lineup after being scratched Friday night because of soreness in his right side. … Angels general manager Bill Stoneman celebrated his 63rd birthday Saturday.