Bobby Abreu was fooled by Brett Anderson‘s nasty slider on a fourth-inning strikeout. In the seventh, Abreu waited for the same pitch and delivered.
That was just his first big hit on a day they were hard to come by.
Abreu homered with one out in the 10th and broke up rookie Anderson’s bid for a perfect game with the seventh-inning single, leading the Los Angeles Angels over the Oakland Athletics 1-0 on Sunday.
“The guy was throwing the ball very well. He was good, and we’ve got to give him credit,” Abreu said. “You know he’s throwing a no-no. Just trying to break it no matter what, and just make contact. He doesn’t give you too many pitches to hit.”
Abreu’s two hits rewarded John Lackey (5-4), who allowed three hits over nine scoreless innings for the AL West-leading Angels – the second time this season he hasn’t allowed a run. The veteran right-hander matched Anderson, the A’s 21-year-old lefty who retired the first 20 batters he faced.
“You had two guys really throwing the ball well, matching each other pitch for pitch,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “That might be some of the best stuff we’ve seen all year from Anderson, and John might have had some of his best stuff of the year.”
Anderson allowed two hits over eight innings, struck out six and didn’t allow a walk for the third time while facing just one batter over the minimum.
The time of game – 2 hours, 17 minutes for 10 innings – told the story of this pitchers’ duel.
“I looked up, and it was the seventh inning,” Angels catcher Jeff Mathis said. “I wasn’t even aware of it. Both guys were throwing a lot of strikes.”
Abreu connected off All-Star Andrew Bailey (4-2) for his seventh homer. Brian Fuentes, another AL All-Star reliever, finished for his majors-leading 28th save in 31 chances.
Anderson extended his scoreless innings streak to 21. The A’s haven’t had a no-hitter since Dave Stewart no-hit Toronto on June 29, 1990.
“It’s every kid’s dream to throw a no-hitter or a perfect game in the big leagues, but if I’m going to give up a hit I might as well give it up to one of their best guys in the lineup that day,” Anderson said. “I was happy with it, especially going up against a guy like Lackey, who before long is going to right the ship.”
The Angels won for the sixth time in seven games and moved a season-high 14 games over .500 at 52-38. They have won five of six at the Coliseum this season, outscoring the A’s 31-20 and lead the season series 6-3.
Los Angeles’ best early chance against Anderson came on Mike Napoli‘s hard grounder to third leading off the fifth, but Adam Kennedy made a great stop and fired to first. Later, first baseman Jason Giambi fielded Erick Aybar‘s grounder and slid into first to make sure he kept the streak going.
Lackey, who won for the third time in his last four starts, planned to tease former Angel Kennedy.
“I got to talk to him about some of the plays he was making,” Lackey said.
Lackey allowed Scott Hairston‘s two-out single in the first, then retired the next eight batters before a walk to Hairston in the fourth. After Jack Cust‘s single two batters later, Lackey got 13 straight outs before Kennedy’s leadoff single in the ninth.
“It was fun. I always like getting into those,” Lackey said. “That kid is good. He’s got great stuff. He’s going to be around for a long time.”
Anderson hasn’t lost in five starts since June 14 at San Francisco.
Anderson, an Olympian last summer for the bronze medal-winning U.S. team, was pulled out of his previous start last Sunday at Tampa Bay with lower back stiffness following four scoreless innings. That came after he pitched a two-hitter at Boston on July 6.
He has allowed only one earned run over his last four outings.
Hairston, Oakland’s center fielder, returned to the A’s starting lineup after missing Saturday’s game with a bruised wrist sustained Friday night when he was hit by a pitch.
Hairston stole his second base since joining Oakland and 10th overall. Hairston, acquired in a July 5 trade with the San Diego Padres, is 10 for 11 in steal attempts. He had just eight stolen bases in 344 career games entering the 2009 season. The A’s have 19 stolen bases in July. … The Angels named RHP Sean O’Sullivan their starter for Monday’s game at Kansas City.