ANAHEIM -- The A’s didn’t see much of Garrett Richards the last time they faced him, knocking the Los Angeles Angels right-hander from the game before the first inning was over.
They saw more of him than they cared for Monday night. Richards bottled up the Major Leagues’ high-scoring offense and the Angels rang up a 4-1 victory in the opener of this three-game series between the American League West’s top teams.
A’s third baseman Josh Donaldson, who had been flashing Gold Glove form of late, committed three throwing errors, two of which led to runs. Angels star Mike Trout drove in two runs for the home team, and outspoken closer Ernesto Frieri – who predicted the Angels would take it to the A’s this series – struck out Josh Donaldson, Brandon Moss and Yoenis Cespedes to nail it down in the ninth.
But it was Richards (6-2), who gave up five runs and recorded just two outs in a May 30 game at the Coliseum, who set the tone in this one. He showed off a fastball that consistently hit 97 on the radar gun and held the A’s to just four hits over seven innings.
The loss shaved the A’s lead to 3 ½ games over the Angels.
Starting pitching report
Jesse Chavez (5-4) turned in a solid night’s work to give the A’s a fighting chance. He went six innings and allowed three runs (two earned) on eight hits. He struck out five and walked one. He was at times both aided and hurt by his defense (see below).
After Ryan Cook put two runners aboard with one out in the seventh, Fernando Abad entered to face Josh Hamilton and struck him out on five pitches, all off-speed offerings. Jim Johnson then entered the game and struck out David Freese looking to keep it a 3-1 game.
The Angels added an unearned run off Johnson in the eighth to pad their lead.
[RELATED: A's react to Angels' Frieri's fiery comments]
At the plate
The A’s just couldn’t get anything going after Stephen Vogt’s bloop single scored Yoenis Cespedes to give the A’s a 1-0 lead in the second. Donaldson is now in a 1 for 16 slump. Alberto Callaspo is 1 for 25 on this road trip and Eric Sogard is 1 for 12 on the trip, to illustrate some of the A’s struggles.
In the field
It was a shaky night for the A’s defensively, and even some standout plays couldn’t make up for it. Coco Crisp made a leaping catch at the wall to rob Mike Trout in the third on what ended up being a sacrifice fly that tied it 1-1. Stephen Vogt threw out Raul Ibanez trying to steal second, after Ibanez’s run-scoring single put the Angels ahead in the fourth.
But Donaldson, who earned praise from Bob Melvin before the game for his recent glove work, committed two throwing errors in the fifth and another in the eighth. He fielded Hank Conger’s bunt in the fifth and made an ill-advised throw that had no chance to get Conger. It went out of play and Conger wound up on second and scored on Mike Trout’s double deep to right, a ball originally ruled a homer but overturned via replay review for what was apparently called fan interference (Angels manager Mike Scioscia was ejected for arguing on the play). At any rate, Trout’s double made it 3-1. Later in the inning, Donaldson bounced a throw to first on Albert Pujols’ sharp grounder.
More good in the sixth, when right fielder Brandon Moss threw out Erick Aybar, who tried to go first to third on a single. It was the A’s 10th outfield assist in the past 17 games. But in the seventh, Yoenis Cespedes ran a long way in left field and had a bead on Kole Calhoun’s fly ball, only to have it pop out of his glove. That play did not cost the A’s.
Then Donaldson skipped a throw to first in the eighth for error No. 3, which led to the Angels’ final run.
The announced turnout was 36,838.
The Angels scratched Tyler Skaggs from Tuesday’s start. He’s headed to the D.L. with a hamstring injury. Fellow lefty Hector Santiago (0-6, 4.82) will be called up from Triple-A Salt Lake to take his place. Drew Pomeranz (5-3, 2.20) takes the ball for Oakland in the 7:05 p.m. game.