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Angels go quietly in lonely confines of Oakland

The A's take a 6-3 victory before less than 10,000 at the Coliseum, where the pennant-drive atmosphere is missing.

September 12, 2011|By Mike DiGiovanna
  • Angels starting pitcher Joel Pineiro leaves the mound after Manager Mike Scioscia came to replace him in the fourth inning Monday night in Oakland.
Angels starting pitcher Joel Pineiro leaves the mound after Manager Mike… (Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated…)

Reporting from Oakland -- It's easy to get fired up for a September game against the New York Yankees in the thick of a pennant race in front of 40,000 fans in Angel Stadium.

Replicating that feeling in the desolate Oakland Coliseum, where it was so quiet Monday night a fan could have a conversation with the left fielder -- from the second deck -- can be a bit of a challenge.

The Angels seemed as lifeless as the mood in the home of the Athletics, where the actual attendance was thousands less than the announced crowd of 12,858.

Joel Pineiro walked two batters and gave up a three-run home run to Josh Willingham in the first inning, and three times, the Angels failed to score a runner from third with fewer than two out in a 6-3 loss to the A's that dropped them three games behind Texas in the American League West with 15 to play.

"It's definitely quiet, but no matter where you play, you have to play the game," Angels right fielder Torii Hunter said. "It didn't bother them. They beat us tonight."

Champagne has flowed freely for the Angels in Oakland, where they clinched division titles in 2004 and 2007, but their 2011 playoff hopes may die here. The Angels are 1-6 in Oakland this season and 5-12 here dating back to 2009.

"We've been outplayed by that team," Manager Mike Scioscia said. "They've pitched better than us. They've executed better."

Oakland left-hander Gio Gonzalez (13-12) gave up two runs and seven hits in 62/3 innings, but the Angels had him on the ropes in the second and fourth innings and barely bruised him.

Hunter singled and scored on Vernon Wells' one-out triple to right to make it 3-1 in the second.

A productive out -- a grounder to shortstop or second, a fly to the outfield -- would have scored Hunter, but 20-year-old outfielder Mike Trout struck out, and Erick Aybar grounded out to first.

The Angels threatened again in the fourth when Howie Kendrick led off with a single and took third on Hunter's double.

But Mark Trumbo struck out, Kendrick held on Wells' fly to shallow right, and Trout, who has two hits in his last 25 at-bats, lined out to center.

Counting Sunday's loss to the Yankees, the Angels have failed to score a man from third with fewer than two out in their last six attempts.

"Gonzalez made some good pitches, but we needed to do a little better job putting the ball in play there," Scioscia said. "We're trying to scrap back into a game. If we had gotten some of those runs across early, the game sets up a little better for us."

The Angels were 0 for 6 with runners in scoring position Monday after going 0 for 7 in those situations in Sunday's 6-5 loss. It's extra frustrating when all they need is an out to score a runner from third.

"We're in a pennant race," Hunter said. "You've got to do whatever it takes to get that run in, a ground ball to second base, anything. It seems so simple, huh? Try playing this game."

The harder some of the Angels' youngsters try, the harder the game seems to get. Trout, Trumbo, the rookie first baseman, and Peter Bourjos, in his first full year in center field, combined to go 0 for 12 with eight strikeouts Monday night.

Trumbo and Trout both were 0 for 4 on Sunday, and Bourjos dropped one ball for a costly error and misplayed another into a double.

"When you're losing, when you have a rough game, sometimes it can carry over," Hunter said. "The young guys have never been to the postseason, never been in a playoff race, and the league is going to make adjustments against them.

"Now they have to make adjustments. Just simplify things. Don't try to do too much. That's easier said than done, though.

mike.digiovanna@latimes.com

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