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Angels humbled by Oakland Athletics, 11-5

Lack of clutch hitting plagues Angels again, and A's break open a close game with five runs in the sixth inning.

April 10, 2013|By Mike DiGiovanna

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The pesky Oakland Athletics come at you in waves, with their parade of young and talented starting pitchers, their endless stream of dominant relievers and their deep pool of no-name position players who do so many little things — and plenty of big things — right.

The Angels, despite outspending the A's, $148 million to $60 million, and sporting a superstar-filled roster led by Mike Trout, Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton, have been no match so far this season.

Oakland broke open a one-run game with five runs in the sixth inning Wednesday night, a rally that featured four singles and three walks — two with the bases loaded — en route to an 11-5 victory that extended their win streak to seven, the last two coming in Angel Stadium.

BOX SCORE: Oakland 11, Angels 5

The Angels, who hoped to avoid the kind of brutal start that torpedoed their playoff hopes last season, fell to 2-6 and into last place in the American League West, 41/2 games behind the first-place A's and a half-game behind the lowly Houston Astros.

About the only bright spot for the Angels was Pujols' 39th career four-hit game, which featured a pair of doubles that gave the slugger 1,000 career extra-base hits, a milestone only 35 major league players have reached.

Things got really ugly in the seventh, when Angels third baseman Alberto Callaspo dropped Yoenis Cespedes' routine pop-up for an error that led to run, but the game was decided by then — the play merely helped give the A's an 11-4 lead.

What doomed the Angels again was their inability to hit in the clutch. They went two for 16 with runners in scoring position Wednesday and are hitting .118 (nine for 76) in those situations on the season..

“It's not so much about rising to the occasion and doing better, it's about maintaining your game,” Manager Mike Scioscia said. “For some guys, there are distractions that lead to a poor at-bat, whether they're trying too hard or not focused.

“Most of the time, players expand their zone a little bit. They want to be the guy to get that hit. Hopefully, experience teaches guys that if you don't get something to hit, you have to pass that baton to the next guy.”

With runners on second and third and no outs in the fifth, Hamilton and Mark Trumbo both struck out on full-count pitches from Tommy Milone that were out of the strike zone. Howie Kendrick followed with a two-run single to right to trim Oakland's lead to 5-4, a rare clutch hit for the Angels.

The A's played without one of their best hitters, Josh Reddick (wrist injury), and second baseman Scott Sizemore (season-ending knee injury suffered Tuesday night). But the defending division champions had more than enough to manhandle the Angels.

The A's played little ball, three times advancing runners from second to third with grounders, two of whom scored. They played long ball — Brandon Moss capped a three-run third with a two-run triple to right and hit a solo home run to right in the fifth.

They showed patience in the fifth, as Jed Lowrie walked off reliever Mark Lowe to load the bases, Cespedes walked to force in a run, and Moss walked off Dane De La Rosa to force in another. Seth Smith's two-out, two-run single, and Josh Donaldson's RBI single broke the game open.

mike.digiovanna@latimes.com

Twitter: @MikeDiGiovanna

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