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."
"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."
- 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.