There are hard luck losses and there are losses like the one the Angels suffered Monday night. Two outs away from their first winning record since Opening Day 2013, Ernesto Frieri left a fastball over the plate to Oakland pinch-hitter John Jaso who tattooed it over the out-of-town scoreboard, giving the visiting A’s a 3-2 lead they wouldn’t surrender.
Hector Santiago willed the Angels through seven innings, earning his first quality start in Anaheim. He scattered and only allowed one run, a solo shot to Yoenis Cespedes in the fourth. It was Cespedes’ second career home run against Santiago and raised his average to .666 against the lefty in six at-bats.
Oakland’s only threat to Santiago came in the seventh inning when he was already past the 85-pitch mark. Cespedes walked, Alberto Callaspo singled to left field, and Nick Punto lined out to Kole Calhoun, giving Cespedes enough space to advance to third. Facing Josh Reddick, Santiago threw three straight off-speed pitches for balls. He battled back and forced Reddick to pop out just behind home plate.
After Joe Smith’s hitless eight, Frieri immediately gave up a singled to begin the ninth. Jaso, 0-3 lifetime against the Angels’ closer, launched the fifth pitch he saw into the right field bleachers. Of 14 home runs Oakland has this year, seven have come in the eighth inning or later.
Albert Pujols was the lone bright spot in an Angels offense that sang a familiar tune; they were one for seven with runners in scoring position while leaving seven men on base. Pujols homered on a line drive to center field in the fourth, giving the Angels first baseman the 496th of his career. He sits four shy of 500 and eight behind Eddie Murray for 25th on the all-time home run list.
The A’s have won 14 of their last 20 games played at Angel Stadium.