Joe Saunders struggled with his command all night. His errant pickoff attempt to first base was the perfect example of how things went.
Speedy Rajai Davis scored the go-ahead run from first in the sixth inning on Saunders’ miscue, and the Oakland Athletics snapped a four-game home losing streak to the rival Los Angeles Angels with a 7-3 victory Friday night.
“It was a combination of hustle along the bases and (third-base coach Mike Gallego) waving me on. He was my eyes when I couldn’t see,” Davis said. “Not only were we aggressive on the basepaths, we were able to take advantage with men on base.”
Saunders walked Davis to start the sixth, then made the wild, high throw over first baseman Kendry Morales. The ball rolled to the Angels‘ bullpen and finally stopped beneath two folding chairs. Davis just beat right fielder Bobby Abreu‘s impressive throw home.
“He just lost his release point on it,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “You couldn’t have placed it any better. It was right in that triangle where everybody had to run max distance to get to it. That guy can fly.”
Bobby Crosby hit a three-run homer, Orlando Cabrera had a two-run double in the eighth and Kurt Suzuki added a sacrifice fly for the A’s in a game where the pitchers from both sides combined for 15 walks.
Cabrera was impressed with how the A’s pushed it on the bases – not exactly general manager Billy Beane’s “Moneyball” kind of play.
“That’s one of the things I’m trying to encourage these guys to do,” Cabrera said.
Saunders (8-6) had a career-high six free walks as the first-place Angels saw their four-game winning streak end with their third loss in the last 10. Los Angeles maintained its two-game lead over Texas, which lost at home to Minnesota.
Morales homered for the second straight game, a drive that was reviewed in the replay booth. His 17th homer extended his career-best hitting streak to 17 games.
The solo shot in the second traveled over the left-field fence and appeared to hit a television camera before ricocheting back onto the warning track. A’s manager Bob Geren rushed out to discuss it with the umpires and the crew briefly left to watch it again before they returned and chief Jerry Layne signaled the home run.
Angels shortstop Erick Aybar left the game after the fourth inning because of dizziness, replaced in the lineup by Howie Kendrick. Aybar had collided hard with Oakland shortstop Cabrera in the third breaking up a double play.
Juan Rivera drew a bases-loaded walk in the fifth that forced in the tying run and chased A’s starter Trevor Cahill, whose winless stretch reached four starts despite a solid day. He is 0-3 since beating San Francisco on June 22.
Craig Breslow (2-4) recorded two outs, one each in the sixth and seventh, for his first win since the A’s claimed him off waivers from Minnesota on May 20.
Saunders is 0-2 over four starts since beating Colorado on June 24. The A’s improved to 12-19 in games started by a lefty.
“It was one of those up-and-down kind of nights,” Saunders said. “I felt like I had good command for a couple hitters and then boom, I lose it.”
Rivera returned to left field for the Angels after being the designated hitter Thursday night following two days on the sidelines because of tightness in his left quadriceps and right hamstring.
A’s center fielder Scott Hairston was hit in the left wrist by a pitch in the eighth and left the game. The wrist was quite swollen and he is questionable for Saturday afternoon’s game.
Davis pulled off a delayed steal of third base in the fourth, his 12th this year. … Cabrera has six straight multihit games. … Struggling A’s DH/1B Jason Giambi had the night off. … Cahill’s start marked the 58th by an A’s rookie this season, matching the club’s total from 2008. Since 1984, only the ’96 team had more starts by a rookie with 62. A six-man rotation is one thing Oakland is considering to keep these young arms from getting overworked. … Injured A’s RHP Justin Duchscherer, a two-time All-Star recovering in Arizona from March elbow surgery, is scheduled for a simulated game Tuesday and could pitch in a real game next Sunday. … Some 500 dogs and their owners got to walk onto the field before the game for A’s Dog Day at the Park.