Athletics 3, Angels 1

The AL West race is officially a lost cause for the Los Angeles

Angels. Now all that’s left for them is a chance for the wild card

– and it’s an increasingly slim one at that.

Gio Gonzalez outdueled Angels ace Jered Weaver and the Oakland

Athletics scored the go-ahead run on an eighth-inning error,

beating the Angels 3-1 on Friday night, mathematically ending their

chances of catching the defending AL champion Texas.

The Rangers have won consecutive division titles after three

straight won by the Angels.

”It hurts that we can’t win the division title. That’s

understandable. But Texas played so well, we just couldn’t catch up

to those guys,” Angels outfielder Torii Hunter said. ”Now we

still have a shot at the wild card, and we still have some life

left. All you want is just to have a chance to get in. We still

have a shot, but it’s very frustrating that we can’t gain any

ground.”

The Angels’ fifth loss in eight games dropped them 3 1/2 games

behind Boston in the AL wild-card race. They have only five games

left to catch the Red Sox and they also have to jump over the Tampa

Bay Rays.

”If we don’t win games, we’re not going to be there at the

end,” Weaver said. ”I was just trying to match zeros with

Gio.”

Gonzalez (15-12) matched his win total of last season, allowing

a run and three hits in 7 1-3 innings. The left-hander is 6-1 with

a 2.89 ERA in seven starts after going 0-5 with a 7.90 ERA in his

previous five.

”Gio’s been pitching great all year for us,” A’s right fielder

David DeJesus said. ”He’s the type of guy who’s going to come

right at you. He gets wild sometimes, but he has the stuff to be an

ace of a staff. We’re lucky to have him and we hope he’s here for a

long time. He’s a competitor. Every time he gets on that mound he

wants to win, and that’s what you love about him.”

Gonzalez has won four straight starts against the Angels since

April 25, when Weaver beat him 5-0 with a seven-hitter at

Anaheim.

”I don’t know how he loses a game the way he pitches against

us,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. ”He’s always tough on us.

I don’t know if it’s matchups, but we didn’t get too many good

looks at him tonight. There were only a couple of balls we were

able to square up.”

Jemile Weeks and DeJesus homered for the Athletics, who are

relishing the spoiler role against their longtime division rivals.

The A’s are 10-7 against the Angels with two games remaining, and

have clinched the season series for only the second time in the

last eight years.

”It’s fun to play the spoiler role, If we can do something

against them, it makes the games more meaningful,” DeJesus said.

”Weaver was on top of his game, but we were fortunate enough to

beat him.”

It was 1-all in the eighth when Kurt Suzuki led off with a

single against Weaver (18-8). Suzuki moved up on a sacrifice, took

third on a wild pitch and scored on an error by third baseman

Maicer Izturis on Weeks’ grounder.

Gonzalez, who leads the AL with 88 walks, left in the bottom

half after one-out walks to Erick Aybar and pinch-hitter Alberto

Callaspo. Izturis grounded out against Grant Balfour, and another

walk to Peter Bourjos loaded the bases.

The Angels’ threat ended when Howie Kendrick hit a foul fly that

was caught by DeJesus, who chased Weaver in the ninth with his 10th

home run. Andrew Bailey pitched a perfect ninth for his 22nd save

in 24 chances.

Weaver gave up with three runs – two earned – and six hits while

striking out eight and walking none. The right-hander, who led the

majors last season with 233 strikeouts, needs two more to become

only the second Angels right-hander with consecutive 200-strikeout

seasons. Nolan Ryan fanned 200 or more seven times in an eight-year

span between 1972 and 1979 and set a modern major league record

with 383 in 1973, a mark that still stands.

The loss made Weaver 14-1 with a 1.36 ERA in the last 24 starts

in which he has pitched at least seven innings. It was his first

defeat under those circumstances since Sept. 4, 2010, when he

dropped a 3-1 decision at Oakland against Trevor Cahill.

”I hate that we didn’t get any runs for Weaver. He pitched well

enough to get a win,” said Hunter, who hit his 22nd homer. ”But

Gonzalez pitched his butt off. He caught us when we were down. His

confidence is high because he pitches well against us. So whenever

he faces us, I’m pretty sure he’s happy. He was confident that he

could throw strikes and get us out, because he had so much success

before.”

Rookie Mark Trumbo’s one-out single in the second inning was the

Angels’ only hit off Gonzalez until the seventh, when Hunter tied

the score 1-all with his one-out homer on the first pitch. It was

the 79th RBI for the four-time All-Star, who had only four hits in

24 career at-bats against Gonzalez before that.

One night after hitting his first major league home run in

Oakland’s 4-3 win over Texas, Weeks got his second when he drove

Weaver’s third pitch of the game into the seats above the 18-foot

wall in right-center.

NOTES: The crowd of 39,217 increased the Angels’ home attendance

to 2,965,557, guaranteeing them that they will finish with a higher

total than the Dodgers for the first time in the franchise’s

50-year history. The Dodgers completed their home schedule Thursday

night with a total of 2,935,139. … This was the eighth time in

Weaver’s 177 career starts that he has given up a home run to the

first batter he faced (2-3 with three no-decisions). … Oakland SS

Cliff Pennington’s two-base throwing error on Vernon Wells’ routine

grounder in the fifth was his 22nd of the season, the second-most

in the league behind Elvis Andrus’ 25 with the Rangers.