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Angels take advantage of errors, move within half-game of A's

CBS SportsLine.com wire reports
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ANAHEIM, Calif. -- The Los Angeles Angels lead the AL in errors and the majors in unearned runs allowed. So once in a while, it's refreshing for manager Mike Scioscia to watch his offense capitalize on some glaring mistakes by the opponent for a change -- and do a little daring baserunning in the process.

Maicer Izturis scored the go-ahead run from second on an infield hit by Orlando Cabrera, and the Angels parlayed two errors into a pair of unearned runs to beat Oakland 3-2 Tuesday night, pulling within a half-game of the first-place Athletics in the AL West.

"We squeaked out just about every run we could with our baserunning," Scioscia said. "Aggressive baserunning should be a part of any team's game. And we need to take it to another level and maximize every opportunity when we get guys on base, because our slugging percentage is where we thought it would be."

"We've got some speed at the top of the lineup and it forced them into mistakes. Two infield singles got us two runs, and that doesn't happen very often," he said.

Joe Saunders (2-0) made a spot start for injury-plagued Cy Young Award winner Bartolo Colon, allowing two runs and five hits over seven innings for the Angels. Saunders struck out three in his fourth big league start and second this season. The left-hander beat Cleveland 7-5 on July 18 while filling in for Kelvim Escobar.

"You've got to make the most of your opportunities, and I'm trying to do that regardless of how long I'm up here," Saunders said. "I tried to keep the ball down as best I could and let my defense work for me. That's my mind-set in every start."

Saunders is one of three starters the Angels have called up this season, including Jered Weaver and Dustin Moseley. The trio is a combined 10-0, including Weaver's 7-0 record.

"We expect guys to come up here and perform well, or else we're not going to put them on our depth chart," Scioscia said. "The young talent we have in Triple-A has done very well up here. We felt these guys were ready. You need that depth, and it's been there for us. That's why we're still in the race."

Izturis punched an opposite-field single to left with two outs in the seventh and went to second on an errant pickoff throw by Oakland starter Joe Blanton (11-9).

Cabrera followed with a bouncer up the middle that shortstop Marco Scutaro fielded on the outfield grass, and Izturis never broke stride. Scutaro's throw home was up the third base line, allowing Izturis to elude Jason Kendall's attempted sweep tag and put the Angels ahead 3-2.

"I really didn't have time to set myself. I just had to turn and throw," Scutaro said. "I had my back to the plate and I just let it go."

Scot Shields pitched a perfect eighth and Francisco Rodriguez struck out three in a hitless ninth for his 26th save in 29 tries. Milton Bradley, who didn't start because of a 102-degree temperature and a sore throat, fanned as a pinch-hitter to end the game with a runner on first.

Blanton was charged with three runs -- one earned -- and nine hits in 6 2/3 innings after winning his previous three starts following the All-Star break. The right-hander is 0-5 in six career starts against the Angels, and 23-4 when his teammates score more than one run while he is on the mound.

Saunders took a two-hit shutout and a 1-0 lead into the sixth before giving up a leadoff walk to Kendall and a single by Mark Kotsay. Both runners advanced on a grounder by Bobby Kielty that Saunders stopped with his left foot before scrambling to throw him out.

Frank Thomas followed with an RBI single, but Kotsay was thrown out by left fielder Juan Rivera as he tried to score behind Kendall.

The Angels took a 2-1 lead in the bottom half with an unearned run, courtesy of Jay Payton's error in right. Garret Anderson singled and came all the way home after Payton misplayed Howie Kendrick's two-out double to the alley.

Payton immediately made up for his fourth error of the season, driving Saunders' 1-0 changeup to left-center for his eighth homer and second in two nights. Payton's last seven home runs have either tied the score or put the Athletics in front. On Monday night, his two-run shot put Oakland ahead to stay in a 3-1 victory.

Cabrera singled with two outs in the first, stole second and scored on Vladimir Guerrero's infield single to the left of the mound. Cabrera never broke stride as first baseman Nick Swisher took the throw from Blanton and juggled the ball thinking about a possible play at the plate. Guerrero was credited with his 81st RBI.

"I would have liked to give up a better hit than that for them to score him. If it was hit harder, they wouldn't have scored any runs," Blanton said. "They took chances with their speed and it worked out for them."

Notes

  • Adam Kennedy led off the fifth with a single that extended his career-best hitting streak to 15 games.
  • Oakland SS Bobby Crosby missed his second straight game with a sore back. Scutaro was 0-for-3 in his place, and is hitless in 17 at-bats against the Angels this season.
 
Copyright 2014 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.
 
 
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Joe Saunders allows two runs and five hits in seven innings for the victory.  (AP)
Joe Saunders allows two runs and five hits in seven innings for the victory. (AP)

Players of the Game
Anaheim

O. Cabrera
AB 4
R 1
H 3
HR 0
RBI 1
Anaheim

J. Saunders
IP 7.0
H 5
ER 2
BB 2
K 3
 
Oakland Athletics
Jason Kendall, C3100101
Mark Kotsay, CF4010010
Bobby Kielty, LF4010000
Frank Thomas, DH3011101
    Adam Melhuse, PR-DH0000000
Eric Chavez, 3B3000112
Jay Payton, RF4111013
Nick Swisher, 1B3000000
   a- Milton Bradley, PH1000011
Marco Scutaro, SS3000020
Mark Ellis, 2B3010010
Totals31252378 
a-struck out for Swisher in the 9th
Batting
2B - Bobby Kielty (, Saunders)
HR - Jay Payton (, Saunders)
RBI - Frank Thomas (), Jay Payton ()
Team LOB - 5
Fielding
DP - Ellis-Scutaro-Swisher
E - Joe Blanton (, ), Jay Payton (, )
Oakland Athletics
Joe Blanton (L,-) 6.2931340
Justin Duchscherer 1.1000000
IBB - Guerrero by Joe Blanton
Pitches-Strikes - Joe Blanton 109-66, Justin Duchscherer 13-10
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Joe Blanton 8-7, Justin Duchscherer 3-1
Batters Faced - Joe Blanton 31, Justin Duchscherer 4
Los Angeles Angels
Chone Figgins, CF4000003
Maicer Izturis, 3B4120000
Orlando Cabrera, SS4131001
Vladimir Guerrero, RF3011111
Garret Anderson, DH4110004
Juan Rivera, LF3000111
Howie Kendrick, 1B4010011
Mike Napoli, C4000002
Adam Kennedy, 2B2010110
Totals323923413 
Batting
2B - Maicer Izturis (, Blanton), Orlando Cabrera (, Blanton), Howie Kendrick (, Blanton)
RBI - Orlando Cabrera (), Vladimir Guerrero ()
2-OUT RBI - Orlando Cabrera (), Vladimir Guerrero ()
SB - Orlando Cabrera (, 2nd base off Blanton/Kendall)
Team LOB - 8
Fielding
Outfield Assists - Juan Rivera 1
Los Angeles Angels
Joe Saunders (W,-) 7522231
Scot Shields (H,) 1000010
Francisco Rodriguez (S,) 1000130
Pitches-Strikes - Joe Saunders 104-59, Scot Shields 14-8, Francisco Rodriguez 20-11
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Joe Saunders 6-11
Batters Faced - Joe Saunders 27, Scot Shields 3, Francisco Rodriguez 4
Game Information
Attendance - 44111
Game Time - 2:23
Temperature - 77
Umpires - Home - Chuck Meriwether, First Base - Phil Cuzzi, Second Base - Jerry Crawford, Third Base - Brian O'Nora