A's rally in 9th to stun Angels
Brian Fuentes has pitched long enough to know this is always true: Be it a rookie reliever or a record-setting closer, a leadoff walk in a tight game often leads to trouble.
Fuentes gave Oakland that opportunity Wednesday night and the Athletics took advantage when pinch-hitter Nomar Garciaparra, Mark Ellis and Matt Holliday hit RBI singles with two outs in the ninth inning for a 6-4 win over the Los Angeles Angels.
"Those are the type of things that happen when things go bad," Fuentes said.
The A's trailed 4-0 before scoring three runs in the eighth inning and three more in the ninth. Kurt Suzuki got a key infield hit during the final rally, helped by a bit of indecision of Fuentes' part.
"Sometimes you can make your own breaks," said Holliday, who did not start. "We had to take advantage of the breaks we got, and it worked out for us. It was a fun game to jump in at the end. To get another chance and added another run on was big."
Rookie reliever Andrew Bailey (1-0) earned his first major league victory with a hitless eighth inning and Brad Ziegler finished for his second save.
Fuentes signed with the Angels after Francisco Rodriguez, successful on a record 62 of 69 save chances last year, left to join the New York Mets.
The former Colorado closer earned a save on opening day with the Angels, and took over to start the ninth with a 4-3 lead. Fuentes began the inning by walking Jason Giambi.
"The last thing you want to do is walk the leadoff guy in the ninth inning of a one-run game," said Fuentes, who converted 30 of 34 save situations for the Rockies last year. "I felt like I made some pretty close pitches, but he got away from me."
Fuentes (0-1) retired the next two batters and Suzuki followed with a trickler up the first-base line. Fuentes and catcher Mike Napoli both reached for the ball but backed off, and Suzuki reached with an infield single. Napoli was making his first start of the season behind the plate after offseason arthroscopic surgery on his right shoulder.
"I felt like I could have made the play," Fuentes said. "Nap came out hard, I didn't hear him and he didn't hear me. We both got to the ball at the same time and thought the other one was going to get out of the way. We practice that play during spring training. I just wasn't assertive enough. But I knew it was going to be a bang-bang play either way."
Garciaparra singled to score pinch-runner Bobby Crosby with the tying run, and Ellis and Holliday followed with hits.
Holliday, who came to the A's in a trade with Colorado, was too ill to play in Tuesday night's 6-4 win and wasn't feeling well enough to start this one, either. He came in as a pinch-hitter in the eighth for Travis Buck and struck out against Scot Shields, then stayed in the game in left field.
"I knew there was a possibility before the game that he would be available. And then in the middle of the game, I was told he was," manager Bob Geren said. "At that point, I looked ahead, trying to project where he might hit. I let him know as soon as I could, and he was happy about getting the chance."
Shields replaced Jose Arredondo with runners at the corners and none out in the eighth. Ellis had an RBI grounder and Ryan Sweeney hit a two-out, two-run single that made it 4-3.
Angels rookie Nick Adenhart scattered seven hits over six scoreless innings and escaped a pair of bases-loaded jams. He struck out five and walked three in his fourth major league start.
Oakland stranded nine runners against the right-hander, who retired Suzuki on groundouts in the first and fifth innings with fastballs. Suzuki is 5-for-24 in bases-loaded situations, including 1-for-13 last season.
"I battled early and it felt good to get out of some jams," Adenhart said. "The first time I came in on Suzuki with a fastball and jammed him pretty good. The second time it was just a fastball down and away that I got him to roll over on."
Oakland starter Dana Eveland allowed three runs and eight hits over six innings.
"I didn't have much on my fastball, but the ball was moving good and I kept the team in the game, which is obviously the goal," Eveland said. "With the team we have this year, you just get back on the mound, throw strikes, get as deep into the game as I possibly can, and let our big bats go to work. The guys pulled through, and our big bats did what we hired them to do."
The two-time defending AL West champion Angels opened the scoring with three runs in the fourth. The first four batters in the inning had hits, including Juan Rivera, whose opposite-field single drive in Torii Hunter.
Bobby Abreu drove in the Angels' fourth run with a sacrifice fly in the seventh against Russ Springer.
The pitch totals for Adenhart and Eveland were identical: 61 of 98 for strikes. ... LHP Brett Anderson will be the second Oakland pitcher in three nights to make his big league debut when the teams conclude their season-opening, four-game series on Thursday. Trevor Cahill went five innings with a no-decision on Tuesday in the Athletics' 6-4 win. Neither of them ever appeared in a Triple-A game. ... Oakland LHP Josh Outman will make his fifth big league start in Friday night's home opener against Seattle. The A's' five-man rotation entered this season with a combined total of 63 starts in the majors - including 35 by Eveland.