Norris: Pinch-hitting 'takes a little different mindset'
Derek Norris' pinch-hit, two-run home run in the seventh inning was the different. (AP)
OAKLAND -- It was Turn Back the Clock Day, 1969-style, for Game 3 of the four-game set between the A's and Los Angeles Angels on Saturday and the A's used a familiar formula that would work in any era.
Effective pitching, lights-out relief pitching and opportunistic hitting carried the A's to a 3-1 victory as Oakland (61-43) climbed to a season-best 18 games over .500 while improving its lead in the American league West to 4 1/2 games over Texas, which plays later at Cleveland. It is the A's largest lead since the 2006 team won the division by four games.
Derek Norris's first career pinch-hit was the big blow as he jumped on the first pitch Scott Downs threw his way for a two-run home run and a 2-1 lead in the seventh inning. Jed Lowrie then doubled in Coco Crisp.
Starting pitching report
Let's just say that Tommy Milone was effectively wild. The left-hander tied a season high with four walks, yet he limited the Angels to one run, a solo homer by Josh Hamilton in the second inning. In improving to 9-8, Milone gave up four hits and struck out six in 114 pitches, the second-most of his season.
Ryan Cook worked a scoreless eighth inning and Grant Balfour had a perfect ninth for his 28th save.
At the plate
It's about clutch hitting in the A's nine games since the All-Star break. Derek Norris' two-run shot in the seventh was the fourth time an A's batter homered in the seventh inning or later to give the A's the lead. It was also the fourth straight game in which an Oakland catcher hit a home run. Coco Crisp had a pair of singles. Still, the A's three-, four- and five-hitters -- Josh Donaldson, Brandon Moss and Yoenis Cespedes -- were a combined 1-for-9 with four strikeouts. In fact, Donaldson's season batting average dipped below .300 for the first time since May 10. And Cespedes is now 2-for-15 since he won the Home Run Derby over the All-Star break. His career-long homerless streak reached 24 games as he has not gone deep since June 21.
In the field
Josh Donaldson's bat may be in a bit of a slumber, but the third baseman's glove is wide awake, thank you very much. Donaldson robbed Erick Aybar of extra bases in the seventh inning when he dived to his right and snagged the smoked line drive while fully extended. One batter later, J.B. Shuck tried to drop a bunt down the third-base line, only to be gunned down by an onrushing Donaldson, who bare-handed the ball and threw across his body.
The A's announced a crowd of 32,333 at the O.co Coliseum for 1969 Throwback Day. Not sure how many of them had their corneas seared looking at the A's garish gold unis.
Tweet o' da game
those are the "No really, Reggie Jackson really did play for us" throwbacks. -- @LarsonRoger, on the A's gold 1969-era uniforms.
Jarrod Parker (6-6, 3.79 ERA) has allowed no more than five hits in each of his last 10 starts, the longest such streak in Oakland history behind the 11 straight authored by Rich Harden. Parker is 2-2 with a 3.16 ERA in six career starts against the Angels. Right-hander Tommy Hanson starts for the Angels. He has faced the A's once in his career, starting the 19-inning affair on April 29 and giving two runs, one earned, on four hits in six innings.