Angels 6, Athletics 4
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP)—Vladimir Guerrero was rounding the bases after his first home run in more than a month, and he got the feeling his teammates were planning something in the dugout.
“It was in the back of my mind they would give me the silent treatment,” Guerrero said Thursday night after hitting home runs in consecutive at-bats and driving in four runs in the Los Angeles Angels’ 6-4 victory over the Oakland Athletics. “It’s good your teammates are there to cheer you up.”
The silent treatment lasted all of one at-bat. His second home run was even better.
Guerrero ended the longest power dry spell of his career, which lasted 30 games and 125 at-bats, with two tremendous shots into the bleachers in left-center field off Chad Gaudin. His last home run was on June 23, against Pittsburgh, but he won the Home Run Derby on July 9 as part of the All-Star game festivities.
“As hard as he swings, yeah it’s a surprise,” Oakland manager Bob Geren said. “He gets that bat through the zone quick. Not too many guys can do that.”
His first home run Thursday gave the Angels a 1-0 lead in the fourth and it came on a pitch that not only was just off the dirt, but nearly hit him.
“It was a good pitch; the right pitch,” Gaudin said. “It was just a freak. The second one was close to the first one. Just a couple of pitches, a couple of bad breaks. That’s what happens when you get into a rut. At some point it has to turn around.”
Guerrero added a three-run blast in fifth, a ball which neither left fielder Shannon Stewart nor center fielder Mark Kotsay bothered to move more than their necks for. The pitch was at the bottom of the strike zone, on the inside part of the plate.
“It’s a new month and I can put everything else behind me,” Guerrero said. “I was able to get more lift in my swing. It’s all about getting lift in my swing. I knew if I started trying to hit home runs it would only make it harder.”
Guerrero, who has 16 homers for the season, has hit four in seven games against the A’s. He’s hitting .429 (12-for-28) with 10 RBIs against his AL West rivals this season.
“I don’t think Vlad was overly concerned,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “It’s been a while but you knew it was going to happen at some point. It came at a good time. Vlad driving the ball is important to us down the stretch.”
Joe Saunders (5-0) gave up two runs and six hits over 6 2-3 innings to gain his seventh straight win, a streak that dates to last year. Saunders is in his fourth stint with the Angels and will likely remain in the starting rotation, which would give him his longest stretch in the majors.
“He’s making a statement,” Scioscia said. “He’s got the opportunity and he’s certainly bringing his game to the major leagues every time out.”
“I told myself I had to go out and go deep in the ballgame,” Saunders said. “I just tried to make good pitches when I needed. I’m glad (Vladimir) picked tonight. I knew he would break out of that drought eventually the way he crushed the ball.”
It was Ellis’ 14th homer of the season, a career high for the A’s second baseman. Ellis extended his errorless streak to 68 games, two shy of the Oakland record.
Gaudin (8-7) lost his fourth straight decision after giving up five runs and seven hits in six-plus innings. He walked three and struck out three.
Gaudin has allowed at least four runs in each of his five starts since the all-star break for a 7.81 ERA. He entered the break with a 2.88 ERA in 18 starts.
Chone Figgins was 2-for-4 and is hitting a major-league best .411 (90-for-219) since June 1.
Kotchman had two hits and has hit safely in 10 of his last 11 games. … A’s 3B Eric Chavez (back problems) sat out for the 14th time in the last 17 games. … Guerrero recorded his first multihomer game of the year and matched his season-high in RBIs. … Ellis has 51 home runs as a second baseman, tops in Oakland history.