Angels 6, Athletics 5

After all the years of winning under Mike Scioscia, the Los

Angeles Angels find themselves facing a losing season for only the

second time in his 11 seasons as manager. And the thought of it

makes them cringe.

But pinch-hitter Hideki Matsui tied the game with an RBI single

off Justin James, and the Oakland rookie forced in two more runs by

hitting one batter with the bases loaded and walking another,

helping the Angels beat the Athletics 6-5 on Monday night.

”You want to win as many games as you can, and at the end of

the year you get your report card,” Scioscia said. ”The quest for

championships never stops, even if you’re eliminated – which

obviously we are from winning our division. But there’s no

consolation prize to this.”

The Angels, who won division titles in each of the previous

three seasons before their reign was ended by the Texas Rangers,

need to go 5-1 the rest of the way just to finish at .500.

”When you’re playing professional ball, you never give up as

long as you’re on the field,” right fielder Torii Hunter said. ”I

always use this analogy: It’s like a pickup basketball game. You

want to win no matter what. We’ve got to win five out of six, and

that’s our goal. I mean, our real goal was to take over first

place, and that didn’t work out. So now we have another plan – to

finish at .500. But saying `I want to grab second place’ doesn’t

sound good.”

The A’s need to win four of their final six games to give Bob

Geren his first winning record in four seasons as their manager.

The A’s haven’t had four straight losing seasons since a six-year

stretch from 1993 through 1998.

”It’s pride. You don’t want to embarrass yourself on the field.

You want to finish off strong,” second baseman Mark Ellis

said.

Matsui greeted James with a tying RBI single to center, after

Bobby Abreu chased A’s starter Brett Anderson with a one-out single

and Brad Ziegler (3-6) walked pinch-hitter Alberto Callaspo.

James loaded the bases by walking Maicer Izturis, then grazed

Erick Aybar with a pitch to force in the go-ahead run and walked

pinch-hitter Hank Conger to bring in another and give the Angels a

6-4 lead.

”We got into good hitting counts, and it led to walks and

Hideki’s base hit,” Scioscia said. ”We had reports on James, but

we didn’t know much about him. He has a little sink to his pitches,

but Hideki did a good job of staying inside the ball and driving it

to left-center. Hank Conger did a good job of just being patient

and looking for a pitch and ended up getting a walk.”

The A’s got one back in the eighth. Jack Cust singled with two

outs against Jordan Walden and Hunter, a nine-time Gold Glove

outfielder, lost Kurt Suzuki’s liner in the lights for a triple.

But Fernando Rodney got three outs for his 13th save in 19

chances.

”It seems like every time we play this team, when or where,

it’s always a great battle,” Geren said. ”We had the lead and

could have very easily had more runs. We could have padded our lead

and given ourselves some more breathing room but they got some big

outs when they needed to and we left some guys on third with less

than two outs.”

The Athletics loaded the bases for the third time in the game

after Michael Kohn (2-0) took over for starter Ervin Santana in the

seventh. But the rookie retired No.9 hitter Cliff Pennington on a

fly ball to right that was too shallow for Suzuki to score on, and

Rajai Davis struck out. Pennington is 2 for 16 in bases-loaded

situations this season.

”We fought hard and battled back, and we were fortunate in some

aspects tonight,” Scioscia said. ”I mean, there aren’t many times

when you’re going to give the other team 21 baserunners and come

out ahead. But our guys made some good pitchers with runners in

scoring position to get out of jams.”

The Angels erased a 3-0 deficit with three runs in the second,

including RBI singles by Izturis and Howie Kendrick. Izturis’ hit

came in his first plate appearance since Aug. 19, after he missed

33 games because of inflammation in his right shoulder.

”Maicer showed us the player that we sorely missed over the

summer – not only at the plate, but in the field,” Scioscia said.

”He’s definitely a guy, along with Kendry Morales, who would have

had a major impact on our club if they had been out on the field

more.”

Cust regained the lead for Oakland with a run-scoring single in

the fourth against Santana, who was charged with four runs and 10

hits over six innings with six strikeouts and three walks. The

right-hander was 9-2 in his previous 12 starts and came in 12-3

lifetime against Oakland.

Suzuki gave Oakland the lead in the first with a bases-loaded

sacrifice fly. Jeremy Hermida led off the second with his first

home run in an Oakland uniform, a drive that cleared the 18-foot

wall in right field. The A’s loaded the bases again later that

inning before Ellis drove in Oakland’s third run with an RBI

single.

NOTES: Andrew Gallo was convicted Monday on three counts of

second-degree murder for driving drunk in the car crash that killed

Angels pitcher Nick Adenhart and two friends in April 2009. ”I

don’t really want to reflect on it too much. I think that’s

something for the families to talk about and share their feelings

about,” pitcher Jered Weaver said. ”Obviously, they’re in a

tougher situation than we are. I mean, he was our teammate and our

friend, but Nick’s family was the closest thing to him.” …

Oakland broadcaster Ray Fosse, who played for the A’s from 1973-75,

began his broadcasting career with them alongside the late Bill

King, who doubled as play-by-play announcer for the Raiders. So

Fosse felt a kinship with former Raiders Hall of Fame quarterback

and placekicker George Blanda, who died Monday at age 83. ”Bill

would talk about George Blanda all the time, and about the miracles

he would perform to win games and the way he finished games. He was

the miracle worker.”