Pujols' 538th HR helps Wilson, Angels beat A's
A first-inning home run by Albert Pujols and two scoreless innings from the back of the Los Angeles Angels' bullpen amounted to all the support C.J. Wilson needed to get one of his most satisfying victories of the season.
Wilson pitched seven innings of two-hit ball, leading the Angels to a 1-0 victory over the Oakland Athletics on Saturday night. The only hits off him were a leadoff single in the first inning by Billy Burns and a two-out double in the fifth by Marcus Semien.
"Obviously there are a lot of guys in their lineup that have seen me a ton of times, and they've had so many at-bats against me that I had to be really, really careful," Wilson said. "When you have a one-run lead, you can't make any mistakes. So I was determined to pitch tough no matter what the count was and just try to get an out on every pitch."
Wilson (4-5) struck out eight and walked three in his first scoreless outing since April 7, when he allowed two hits over eight innings in a victory at Seattle.
"This was one of the harder games I've had to work through because I had to make so many pitches with the game on the line," Wilson said. "The fun games are the ones where you have a six-run lead, they roll over on everything and you cruise through it. This isn't fun. It's draining. It's a lot of work, but this is what you do all the work and preparation for and watch all the video."
The left-hander was 1-3 with a 6.00 ERA his previous five starts -- including a loss at Yankee Stadium last Sunday, when he gave up a season-worst six runs along with seven hits and three homers in seven innings.
Joe Smith pitched a perfect eighth and Huston Street got three outs for his 19th save in 21 attempts, one night after he needed 26 pitches to preserve a 5-4 victory against his former club.
Kendall Graveman (3-3) went the distance for the first time in nine major league starts, allowing eight hits and striking out eight without walking a batter. The 24-year-old right-hander threw 111 pitches, helping out manager Bob Melvin's battered bullpen. On April 20 in Anaheim, Graveman threw 73 pitches in three-plus innings and left with a 5-3 lead after walking his first two batters in the fourth.
Two nights after passing Mickey Mantle for 16th place on the all-time home run list, Pujols hit the 538th of his career and raised his RBI total to 1,636 -- tying Ernie Banks for 29th place on that list.
Pujols' drive into the left field bullpen gave him 18 homers for the season, tying Mike Trout for the club lead. The three-time NL MVP became the sixth player in Angels history to homer at least 10 times in a 15-game span, and the first since Mo Vaughn did it from May 8-25, 2000.
"I probably threw too many fastballs in that sequence. That's on me," Graveman said. "The first four innings we pitched one way and the last four we pitched a different way. After the fourth I was able to get some more off-balance swings and some that were off the barrel. So it was good to be able to do that. It was a good sign."
Wilson's biggest out came in the fifth, when he got Sam Fuld to chase an outside breaking pitch in the dirt for the third out after giving up a walk to Brett Lawrie and Semien's two-out double to left-center. Fuld, who came in 4 for 11 against Wilson with three RBIs and no strikeouts, was in the starting lineup against a lefty for only the second time all season.
"In that situation, I just wanted to throw the ball on the fringes and not throw a meatball with guys on base," Wilson said. "I'd walked him early in the game, which I was extremely frustrated about because I was trying to throw him strikes. ... He's a line-drive hitter, so I'm trying to make sure he hits the ball either way up in the air or on the ground to someone."
Angels third baseman David Freese, who was kept out of the starting lineup the previous three games because of tightness in his right hamstring, was 2 for 3.
Athletics: RHP A.J. Griffin, who hasn't pitched for the club since undergoing Tommy John surgery, was reinstated from the 60-day disabled list and optioned to Triple-A Nashville. Closer Sean Doolittle (left shoulder strain) was transferred to the 60-day DL to clear a spot for Griffin on the 40-man roster.
Angels: OF Collin Cowgill (sprained right wrist) is scheduled to be examined by a specialist in next week in Arizona.
Athletics: RHP Sonny Gray (7-3) is 4-1 with a 2.52 ERA in seven career starts against the Angels, including back-to-back wins in April. His 1.74 ERA through Friday was the second-best in the majors, and a percentage point behind Pittsburgh's Gerrit Cole.
Angels: RHP Matt Shoemaker (4-4) has allowed three earned runs in 18 2/3 innings over his last three starts. He is 0-3 with a 5.26 ERA in five home starts this season, including a 6-3 loss to the A's on April 20, when he worked three-plus innings and gave up home runs to Vogt and Marcus Semien.