Oakland at Anaheim

L.A. Angels
W: B. Zito (8-8) L: P. Byrd (9-6)
S: H. Street (7)
HR: OAK - M. Ellis (2), M. Kotsay (9)   ANA - None

Athletics 3, Angels 0

CBS SportsLine.com wire reports

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Superb pitching has enabled the Oakland Athletics to scramble back into the AL West race, and it looks like it's going to keep them there.

Barry Zito combined with two relievers on a seven-hitter to win his fifth straight start, Mark Ellis and Mark Kotsay homered, and the Athletics crept closer in the AL West race with a 3-0 victory over the Los Angeles Angels on Wednesday night.

Oakland, a major league-best 32-13 since May 29, took two of three from the Angels to climb within 6½ games of the defending division champs. The Athletics haven't been this close to first place since May 14, when they were six games off the pace.

"This was big," Zito said. "We've got to send a message to them that we're coming."

The A's began the season 17-32 and were as many as 12½ games out first. But they have won 22 of their last 28 games and 11 of 16 on the road to go a season-best four games over .500. Combined with the Yankees' 8-4 win at Texas, the A's have moved into second place for the first time since May 2.

"Our guys are playing extremely intense baseball, and it's fun to watch," manager Ken Macha said. "These guys are just playing it one series at a time, trying to win as many series as we can. I think what was impressive was that we came back after losing the first game to win the next two."

Zito (8-8) allowed five hits over seven innings, struck out six and walked two in his first scoreless outing this season. The 2002 Cy Young winner got his record to .500 for the first time.

"The toughest thing for a baseball player is when they project negative situations when they haven't happened yet, and that's what I was doing early in the season," Zito said. "But now I just try to project positive situations.

"It's all mental. I mean, I've made a few mechanical adjustments, but if your mental game is not in place, you're not going to have success."

The Angels, 9-10 since a season-high eight-game winning streak, put runners in scoring position in four of the first five innings, but couldn't get the clutch hit. Bengie Molina celebrated his 31st birthday with four hits, tying a career high, but three of them came with no one on base.

Juan Rivera stranded a man at third in the fourth with a double-play grounder, and Chone Figgins did likewise in the fifth with a groundout.

Zito, who pitched no-hit ball through the first 7 1/-3 innings of his 7-2 victory last Friday against Texas, frustrated the Angels again in the seventh when he struck out Adam Kennedy with runners at second and third. Los Angeles entered the game with a major league-leading .305 average with runners in scoring position.

"I didn't really have great command," Zito said. "Usually I'm living on that inside corner to righties, and I was missing in a little bit tonight. But my off-speed pitches really got me out of jams. My changeup was huge and luckily my curveball was on."

Justin Duchscherer pitched the eighth inning and Huston Street got three outs for his seventh save in 11 attempts.

Paul Byrd (9-6) lost for the first time in five decisions, allowing three runs and six hits over six innings and striking out four. It was the eighth time in 19 starts this season that he did not walk a batter, but he was quite hard on himself afterward.

"It's not our offense on this one, it's me," he said. "I'm not happy with it. People will say I kept the team in the game, but the bottom line is that tonight we needed no runs up there, and I gave up three. So that's frustrating.

"Their staff's going through a hot streak right now and they're all throwing well," Byrd said. "You could say our offense is slumping, but good pitching beats good hitting."

Zito and Byrd matched zeros until the fifth. Nick Swisher lined a single off the glove of second baseman Kennedy as he dove to his right, then Ellis drove a 1-1 pitch to left-center for his second homer of the season.

Kotsay, who was stranded after a leadoff double in the fourth, homered his next time up leading off the sixth to put Oakland ahead 3-0. Eight of Kotsay's nine home runs this season have come on the road.


Zito plunked Orlando Cabrera in the fifth, tying Tim Hudson's Oakland record of 47 hit batsmen. ... Wednesday marked the 36th anniversary of Vida Blue's major-league debut, which took place in this ballpark when it was called Anaheim Stadium. Blue helped pitch the Athletics to three straight World Series titles (1972-74). ... The Angels will reach the 2 million mark in home attendance on Thursday night when they open a four-game series with the Yankees - the only other AL team to reach that figure so far. ... Figgins is 2-for-21 lifetime against Zito. ... Oakland's Bobby Kielty extended his hitting streak to 12 games with a single his first time up.
Copyright 2017 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
Players of the Game

M. Ellis
AB 3
R 1
H 2
HR 1

B. Zito
IP 7.0
H 5
ER 0
BB 2
K 6

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Oakland Athletics
Jason Kendall, C4000001 .276
Mark Kotsay, CF4121000 .271
Bobby Crosby, SS4010021 .302
Eric Chavez, 3B4000012 .274
Scott Hatteberg, DH4010012 .279
Bobby Kielty, LF4010002 .284
Dan Johnson, 1B4000001 .275
Nick Swisher, RF4110021 .241
Mark Ellis, 2B3122000 .293
2B - Mark Kotsay (22, Byrd)
HR - Mark Kotsay (9, Byrd), Mark Ellis (2, Byrd)
RBI - Mark Kotsay (51), Mark Ellis 2 (17)
2-OUT RBI - Mark Ellis 2 (8)
SB - Eric Chavez (2, 2nd base off Byrd/Molina)
Team LOB - 5
DP - Ellis-Crosby-Johnson, Ellis-Johnson, Street-Ellis-Johnson
Oakland Athletics
Barry Zito (W,8-8) 7500260 3.55
Justin Duchscherer (H,7) 1100000 1.58
Huston Street (S,7) 1100000 1.52
HBP - Cabrera (by Barry Zito)
Pitches-Strikes - Barry Zito 113-67, Justin Duchscherer 12-9, Huston Street 12-8
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Barry Zito 9-4, Justin Duchscherer 2-1, Huston Street 1-1
Batters Faced - Barry Zito 27, Justin Duchscherer 4, Huston Street 3
Los Angeles Angels
Chone Figgins, 3B4010001 .280
Darin Erstad, 1B4000021 .279
Vladimir Guerrero, RF4010010 .312
Garret Anderson, LF4010001 .295
Bengie Molina, C4040000 .313
    Zach Sorensen, PR0000000 .000
Juan Rivera, DH3000113 .250
Steve Finley, CF4000002 .228
Orlando Cabrera, SS1000100 .248
Adam Kennedy, 2B3000022 .332
2B - Bengie Molina (7, Zito)
SB - Chone Figgins (31, 2nd base off Zito/Kendall), Orlando Cabrera 2 (8, 3rd base off Zito/Kendall, 2nd base off Zito/Kendall)
Team LOB - 7
Los Angeles Angels
Paul Byrd (L,9-6) 6633042 3.71
Brendan Donnelly 1100010 3.32
Esteban Yan 2100010 3.86
Pitches-Strikes - Paul Byrd 102-71, Brendan Donnelly 18-13, Esteban Yan 23-16
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Paul Byrd 7-7, Brendan Donnelly 1-1, Esteban Yan 2-3
Batters Faced - Paul Byrd 24, Brendan Donnelly 4, Esteban Yan 7
Game Information
Attendance - 42285
Game Time - 2:37
Temperature - 77
Umpires - Home - Chris Guccione, First Base - Lance Barksdale, Second Base - Angel A. Hernandez, Third Base - Greg Gibson