For a minute it looked like the Angels were going to have another one of those nights. They loaded the bases three times against Oakland pitching before Howie Kendrick’s 10th-inning sacrifice fly gave Los Angeles a 4-3 victory.
The Angels notch their 10th walk-off win of the season and become the Majors’ first 80-win team.
Erick Aybar and Gordon Beckham tagged A’s starter Sonny Gray for RBI singles in the second with Beckham’s scoring two runs. Gray, who entered 2-0 with a 2.74 ERA against the Angels, surrendered three runs on six hits and three walks in his first career start at The Big A.
By the time the young righty settled down, Los Angeles already held a 3-0 lead.
Most of Oakland’s damage came in the fifth and sixth innings with Geovany Soto’s RBI double and Coco Crisp’s run-scoring single. Josh Donaldson’s 26th home run of the season was the exclamation point on an C.J. Wilson’s otherwise solid start.
Wilson followed his one-run outing at O.co Coliseum last weekend by allowing three on seven hits through 5 2/3 innings. Walks continue to be an issue for the left-hander who surrendered three Thursday night, his third straight time doing so.
Mike Morin relieved Wilson with two-on and two-out in the sixth and immediately walked the bases loaded. Stephen Vogt struck out on a fastball low and in to end the threat. Oakland wouldn’t have another runner reach scoring position.
A controversial bottom of the ninth began with Aybar’s chopper between the pitcher’s mound and first base. Brandon Moss and Dan Otero converged in front of the first base line, blocking Aybar’s running lane. The shortstop intentionally ran into Otero and was awarded first base via an interference error.
Oakland manager Bob Melvin protested the call, meaning an Angels’ victory would be void if the MLB saw reasonable cause, though the play would prove futile as Mike Trout grounded into an inning-ending force out.
Albert Pujols forced a leadoff walk in the 10th and Josh Hamilton’s ensuing single scurried Pujols to third base. Hamilton records his second straight multi-hit game and first back-to-back RBI games since Aug. 21-22.
Kendrick saw a heavy dose of fastballs before taking Fernando Abad’s eight pitch near the right field warning track. Pujols scored easily and the Angels’ mobbed Kendrick as he rounded first base.
As Trout lifted a Gatorade cooler over Kendrick, the second baseman closed his eyes, spread his arms, and accepted what he would later say was his ALS challenge.
The Angels move to 5-8 against the Athletics and take a two game lead in the AL West. Oakland has dropped 11 of the last 17 games while Los Angeles has won 12 of their last 16.