K-Rod blows save for Lackey, but Izturis’ RBI single in ninth helps Angels beat A’s 7-6
ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP)—John Lackey has lost count of how many victories Francisco Rodriguez has saved for him. So when the All-Star closer blew a three-run lead in the ninth inning on Wednesday, Lackey took it easy on him.
“That’s not going to happen too often. I can’t wait to hand him the ball the next time I’ve got the lead in the ninth,” Lackey said after the Los Angeles Angels pulled out a 7-6 win over the Oakland Athletics on a two-out RBI single in the bottom of the ninth by Maicer Izturis.
“It would have been nice to get the win, but the team got it,” Lackey said after he was denied his 13th victory. “Right now we just need to win games. It doesn’t matter how they look or how it happens. Frankie’s a great closer. There was just some weird stuff that happened in that inning.”
Rodriguez (4-2) took the ball with a 6-3 cushion before Travis Buck ignited the three-run rally with a bloop double and scored on a fielder’s choice grounder by Nick Swisher. Mike Piazza helped fuel the rally with a broken-bat single, Rodriguez forced in another run with a bases-loaded walk to Mark Kotsay and Marco Scutaro tied it with a sacrifice fly.
“I didn’t get the job done,” Rodriguez said after his third blown save in 28 chances. “My pitching was fine, but I just couldn’t control what happened. They got some bloop hits and broken-bat hits and it all fell apart.
“It’s a relief that we won. It would have been much worse if we lost. But I’ve got to step up and put zeros on the boards. I’ve got to make sure this doesn’t happen again, because they pay me to save games—not get wins.”
Casey Kotchman singled with one out in the Angels’ ninth, advanced to second on a groundout, took third on a passed ball by Rob Bowen and scored when Izturis rapped a 2-1 pitch to left field against Joe Kennedy (3-9).
Kennedy dropped to 1-10 lifetime against the Angels. His only win against them came on Monday night, when he pitched two scoreless innings and was awarded the victory after starter Chad Gaudin was pulled in the fourth with a 9-5 lead.
While Piazza was in the on-deck circle in the ninth, he was struck by a water bottle thrown by a fan several rows up. The game was stopped briefly while a furious Piazza used his bat to point out the culprit to the umpires and security people. The bottle-thrower was escorted out while a few of Piazza’s teammates calmed him down.
“It hit me partly on the back of the head and partly on the helmet where the ear flap is nonexistent. That’s why I’m going to press charges on him,” said Piazza, who homered in the fifth inning.
“It was a gutless move, but what are you going to do? Once they started asking who it was, he just tried to run away—so there you go. Hopefully he’ll spend the night in jail. I mean, in this day and age, you shouldn’t be surprised. But there’s just no excuse for that. It’s absolutely ridiculous.”
Before the game, the A’s placed injury-prone shortstop Bobby Crosby on the 15-day disabled list with a broken left hand. He was hit by a fastball from Justin Speier in the eighth inning of Oakland’s 4-3 victory Tuesday night. Crosby, the 2004 AL Rookie of the Year, is on the DL for the fifth time in the past three seasons.
The AL West-leading Angels grabbed a 5-3 lead with three runs in the fifth. After Piazza’s homer put Oakland up 3-2, Chone Figgins tied it with an RBI double, Reggie Willits scored the go-ahead run on Orlando Cabrera’s groundout and Garret Anderson followed with an RBI single.
In the top of the inning, Piazza drove an 0-1 pitch to center field for his 422nd homer. All three of his home runs this season have come at Angel Stadium, including a three-run drive Monday night against Dustin Moseley and a tiebreaking solo homer off Rodriguez in the ninth inning of a 4-3 win April 5.
Joe Blanton gave up five runs and 11 hits in six innings, becoming the first Oakland pitcher to allow at least 10 hits in four consecutive starts since Rick Langford in 1982. Blanton has a 6.75 ERA during that stretch, after leading the AL in June with a 1.58 mark.
Lackey allowed three runs, seven hits and four walks in six innings with seven strikeouts.
Angels manager Mike Scioscia left struggling slugger Vladimir Guerrero out of the lineup so he could get back-to-back days off before the team began a series against Detroit. Guerrero, who won the Home Run Derby during the All-Star break, is homerless in 97 at-bats over his last 24 games—the longest drought of his big league career. The Angels have two home runs in their last 18 games, and are 10-15 since Guerrero’s last home run on June 23. The eight-time All-Star averaged 36.2 homers over the previous nine seasons, and has 14 this year. … The Athletics have used the DL 18 times this season—the most since 1997, when they used it 21 times. … Donnie Murphy, recalled from Triple-A Sacramento to replace Crosby on the 25-man roster, started at shortstop and was 1-for-3 with an RBI double and an error.