ANAHEIM – Collin Cowgill homered with two outs in the bottom of the 14th and the Los Angeles Angels dealt the A’s a 2-1 defeat Tuesday night.
The A’s did plenty right in this one. They got outstanding pitching from Drew Pomeranz and four relievers. They also got one of the most amazing throws you’ll see from left fielder Yoenis Cespedes, who cut down Howie Kendrick at the plate in the eighth inning to keep it a tie game.
But there was also plenty the A’s did wrong. They managed just eight hits over 14 innings and have totaled just two runs over 23 innings so far in this series. Their offensive struggles are the biggest reason the A’s have dropped the first two of this three-game American League West showdown.
The Angels have cut Oakland’s lead to 2 ½ games in the division, the smallest it’s been since May 30.
The marathon capped an emotional day for the A’s, who learned of the passing of former Oakland pitcher and spring training instructor Bob Welch. Reliever Sean Doolittle wrote the initials “BW” on his cap to honor Welch, and Doolittle delivered two stellar innings to help get the game to the 14th before Cowgill hit a 1-2 pitch from Jeff Francis over the left field wall.
Starting pitching report
Drew Pomeranz went seven strong innings, tying his career high for innings pitched that he established in his previous start at Yankee Stadium. The lefty gave up just four hits, and his only run was unearned. Over his past two outings, Pomeranz has thrown 14 innings and allowed just one earned run on 10 hits. Encouraging stuff for the A’s, as Pomeranz is showing he can pitch deeper into games and save the bullpen.
Luke Gregerson relieved Pomeranz to start the eighth and did well to strand the go-ahead run at third, with help from Cespedes’ Herculean throw. That’s seven scoreless outings in a row for Gregerson.
Dan Otero added two scoreless innings over the ninth and 10th.
At the plate
Through the first seven innings, the A’s advanced just one runner as far as third base. They finally broke through in the eighth, when they put the leadoff man aboard for just the second time all night. Nick Punto doubled down the left field line off Angels reliever Mike Morin and moved to third on Stephen Vogt’s grounder to the right side. Then Jed Lowrie, hitless in his previous 18 at-bats, delivered a game-tying sacrifice fly.
Angels starter Hector Santiago was recalled from Triple-A Salt Lake and was only pitching for Los Angeles because scheduled starter Tyler Skaggs went on the D.L. on Monday. Santiago came in with an 0-6 record and 4.82 ERA in the bigs this season. In fact, he hadn’t pitched well in the minors since being demoted either. But he looked like a rejuvenated man Tuesday, perhaps buoyed by his previous outing against the A’s, when he threw seven innings of one-run ball. Santiago held Oakland to three hits over six shutout innings Tuesday, striking out a season-high eight.
The A’s had a golden opportunity in the ninth, set up by Cespedes. He led off with a single and was bunted over by Derek Norris. Cespedes stole third off sidearmer Joe Smith, putting him 90 feet from scoring with one out. But Brandon Moss struck out (one of three strikeouts for him on the night), and after an intentional walk to Coco Crisp, John Jaso grounded out to first.
In the field
Donaldson didn’t have a ball come his way until the bottom of the sixth. He made a nice backhand stop on Albert Pujols hard grounder but rifled a ball to second that short-hopped Nick Punto and skipped into right field, putting runners on second and third. Josh Hamilton followed with a run-scoring single to right that broke a scoreless tie.
Brandon Moss cut down Pujols at the plate as he tried to score from second on the play. That marked the A’s 11th outfield assist in the past 18 games – impressive stuff for sure. But errant throws from their third baseman have led to runs each of the first two games of this series.
A crowd of 31,942 was on hand.
Tommy Milone (3-3, 3.68) matches up against Jered Weaver (7-4, 3.31) in Wednesday’s 7:05 p.m. series finale.