A’s Beat Angels, Stay Alive in Wild Card Race

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Oakland, CA – Call it a hoax but the Angels have not been successful in winning at O.co this season. The rally possum wasn’t needed tonight as the A’s dominated in the first by scoring six runs to seal their victory over the Halos 8-1. Jeff Samardzija was a gem on the mound once again and this time he had the runs to back him.

“It was good to see us take the walks, not try to be too aggressive, which maybe we’ve been too much recently, but made him work, throw a lot of pitches,” said Oakland’s manager Bob Melvin. “Next thing you know we put up a six-spot.”

The A’s got off to a rough start when Jonny Gomes misplayed leadoff hitter Kole Calhoun’s line drive to left field. Gomez error allowed Calhoun to advance to third. Mike Trout’s sacrifice fly scored in the Angels first run making it a 1-0 game. Oakland responded bottom of the inning after C.J. Wilson loaded the bases with one out.

Coco Crisp leadoff the frame with a single and Wilson walked both Josh Donaldson and Jonny Gomes. He then walked Derek Norris and tied the game 1-1. Bases still loaded, Wilson walked in another run. Oakland made it a 2-1 game. Geovany Soto grounded a single up the middle and drove in two runs to extend The A’s lead 4-1.

“You really can’t call a timeout in the middle of the game and go review the tapes,” Wilson said. “There’s no headset to the offense coordinator where you can call in a different viewpoint. Seeing it in slow motion, I was able to confirm what I was doing wrong.

He tossed 2/3 innings, allowed two hits, six runs (four earned) and walked four but was charged for six walks. Wilson pitched his second shortest start of his career and allowed a season-high six tying runs. The Halos couldn’t catch a break after that, David Freese threw Nick Punto’s ground ball down the right field line for a three-base error scoring in two more runs.

Mike Morin forced Crisp to ground out to first base to end the inning. After two scoreless innings pitched from the Angels bullpen, they loaded the bases again. Crisp hit a single and both Sam Fuld and Donaldson were issued a free pass. But Dunn flew out to center field to end the threat.

“We’ve been through a lot during this last month and a half, two months, so it’s good to see everything starting to come together, everything clicking, playing great defense, taking great at-bats and pitchers pitching,” said Samardzija. “That’s what you want and I think we’re doing it at the right time.”

The A’s got another opportunity in the seventh. After back-to-back walks to pinch-hitters Brandon Moss and Dunn, Jed Lowrie hit a single and Stephen Vogt followed with a two-run single extending the A’s lead 8-1. Soto has hit safely in each of his four games against the Angels this year.

“He’s a shark,” Soto said. “He’s coming at you. He’s coming for some blood.”

Samardzija’s night ended after seven frames. He allowed five hits, one run and struck out three. Evan Scribner came in and gave up a three-run homer to Albert Pujols trimming the lead in half. Samardzija is Oakland’s first starter with 7+ innings pitched and no error allowed in three straight starts since Trevor Cahill in 2010.

This is the second time this month Oakland has won back-to-back games. They haven’t won three straight since Aug 7-9. The A’s have a one game lead over the Royals for the top American League Wild Card spot. Winning three of their last four, Oakland can put themselves in a good position if they can take the series but it’s one day at a time.

“There’s not many options we have right now,” said Angels manager Mike Scioscia.

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