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Angels' loss to A's eliminates them from AL West race

Eighth-inning error by Maicer Izturis lets in the go-ahead run. Angels fall 3 1/2 games behind Boston in the wild-card chase.

September 23, 2011|By Mike DiGiovanna
  • Angels starting pitcher Jered Weaver heads to the dugout after eight-plus innings of work Friday night against Oakland.
Angels starting pitcher Jered Weaver heads to the dugout after eight-plus… (Stephen Dunn / Getty Images )

Look at the bright side, Angels fans. At least you won't have to watch the Texas Rangers dance all over your team's turf next week.

The Angels spared themselves and their followers that indignity Friday night when they lost to the Oakland Athletics, 3-1, and were eliminated from the American League West race.

The Rangers beat Seattle, 5-3, earlier Friday and watched the Angels-A's game with their fans on the video board at the Ballpark in Arlington.

When Oakland escaped a bases-loaded, two-out jam in the eighth and held on for the win, Texas clinched its second consecutive division title and rendered its season-ending three-game series in Angel Stadium beginning Monday moot.

The loss dropped the Angels, who looked fatigued, 31/2 games behind the sagging Boston Red Sox in the wild-card race with five games left. They are also a game behind Tampa Bay.

The Red Sox, 5-16 in September and backpedaling toward the playoffs, had their best day in weeks: Their game against the Yankees was rained out and they gained a half-game on the Rays and Angels.

"It's frustrating we can't gain any ground," right fielder Torii Hunter said after the Angels lost for the sixth time in 11 games. "It hurts that we can't win the division, but we still have life left."

Hunter breathed some life into the Angels with a solo home run to right-center field off A's starter Gio Gonzalez (15-12) to tie the score, 1-1, in the bottom of the seventh.

Oakland took advantage of third baseman Maicer Izturis' error to score an unearned run for a 2-1 lead in the eighth, but the Angels, who had only three hits, threatened in the bottom of the eighth when Gonzalez walked Erick Aybar and Alberto Callaspo with one out.

Grant Balfour came on and got Izturis to ground out to secondbut the reliever walked Peter Bourjos to load the bases.

Up stepped Howie Kendrick, who worked the count full. With a crowd of 29,217 on its feet, Kendrick flied to right field to end the inning.

Oakland right fielder David DeJesus crushed a solo homer off Angels starter Jered Weaver (18-8) for an insurance run in the ninth, and Andrew Bailey closed out the Angels for his 22nd save.

"It was a cut fastball on the outer half, a good pitch by him," Kendrick said of Balfour. "I was really relaxed. The crowd was into it, and it was a big situation. Unfortunately, this time, he beat me."

Much like their 12-inning loss in Toronto on Thursday night, when first baseman Mark Trumbo's error allowed the Blue Jays to put the eventual tying run on third in the seventh inning, a defensive miscue cost the Angels dearly Friday.

In a 1-1 game, A's catcher Kurt Suzuki led off the eighth with a single, took second on Scott Sizemore's sacrifice bunt and third on Weaver's wild pitch.

Jemile Weeks, who led off the game with a home run, hit a sharp one-hopper to the left of Izturis, who could not make the play, the ball kicking off his glove as Suzuki scored for a 2-1 lead.

"You're not going to be perfect — you're not going to make every play — but we've missed some balls in some key situations that have ended up hurting us," Scioscia said.

"Your margin for error is very fine in our position. We have to win all our games. Every time we lose, it puts us in more of a hole and takes some pressure off the one team we're trying to catch."

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