As salvage jobs go, it was like finding a buffalo nickel on the street after losing a vault of coins.
Jered Weaver and Torii Hunter provided the Angels a sliver of solace Thursday at Angel Stadium, Weaver pitching seven scoreless innings and Hunter collecting two of his three hits during a six-run seventh inning in a 6-0 victory over the Oakland Athletics.
The triumph might have held a little more significance had the Angels not lost the first three games of the series against one of the teams they are chasing in the wild-card race.
"We were very disappointed at the way this series started, the first three games," Angels Manager Mike Scioscia said, "but we bounced back this afternoon."
Finding silver linings in what has become a tarnished pursuit of a playoff berth may be all that's left for the Angels, who trail New York and Baltimore by 3 1/2 games for the second wild-card spot with 18 games remaining.
Weaver (17-4) was golden in his first appearance in 11 days after missing one start because of biceps tendinitis. He held Oakland to two hits and struck out nine, extending his scoreless streak against the Athletics to 18 innings spanning parts of three starts.
Kevin Jepsen and Nick Maronde each pitched a scoreless inning of relief, helping the Angels collect their major league-leading 16th shutout.
Hunter made sure the Angels didn't suffer the same fate.
Their recent offensive struggles only intensified over the first six innings, when they grounded into a pair of double plays and went hitless in their first six at-bats with runners in scoring position.
Through the first 33 innings of the series, the Angels scored a not-so-grand total of seven runs.
Then came the seventh inning.
Hunter homered leading off against Oakland starter Brett Anderson (4-1), triggering an exchange of high-fives in the dugout led by the fiery right fielder.
There would be plenty more celebrating as the Angels went on to send 11 batters to the plate in the inning, tallying six hits and six runs.
"You come in and you try to give that same energy, that good energy, to your teammates," Hunter said of his dugout demeanor, "and I think that's what happened. These guys got hit after hit after hit after that, and that's a lot of fun."
Erick Aybar followed Hunter's homer with a one-out double before Mark Trumbo, back in the lineup after sitting out the previous two games, hit a run-scoring single. Alberto Callaspo later added a two-run single and the hits kept coming, Hunter eventually driving in the Angels' final run with a single to center.
Hunter finished with three hits while batting in the cleanup spot, raising his average to .351 since the All-Star break.
"I go to another level and I get that different adrenaline flow in the second half because we're so close to the playoffs," he said. "I think that's what drives me."
The Angels are so close to the playoffs and yet so far. They were 4-3 against the Athletics during a stretch of seven head-to-head meetings in 10 days, basically standing in place at a time when they needed to commence a sprint to the finish.
"You can ask us at the end of the season if it was enough," Scioscia said. "We have a lot of work ahead of us and we have to put up wins. We're hopefully getting to a point where we can keep putting up wins and some other teams are going to come back to us a little bit."