Juan Rivera and Eric Aybar homered to back the Angels' star starter and closer in a 7-4 win over the Oakland Athletics on Wednesday.
Both are expected to represent the Angels in the All-Star game: Rodriguez for the third time as the major leagues' save leader, and Saunders for the first time with an AL-high 12 wins.
"Twelve means I've gotten off to a good start, but I've got to keep it going," Saunders said after helping the Angels extend their West Division lead over Oakland to 5½ games.
"I don't consider myself an All-Star, but I'm having a great year. And if it happens, it'll be a great honor and a great experience to play in an All-Star game at Yankee Stadium in the last year of that stadium. I'd be on Cloud 9 if it happens."
Saunders (12-4) became the first Angels pitcher with at least 12 wins before the All-Star break since 1991, when Chuck Finley and Mark Langston did it.
"There's a lot of guys who don't have All-Star stuff and are successful," Oakland left fielder Emil Brown said. "You don't always have to have the best fastball or the nastiest curveball to get outs and win games. I mean, he doesn't have the greatest fastball, but he has enough finesse with his second and third pitch to get guys out. And he's consistently doing it."
Saunders tied Brandon Webb for the major league lead in wins. The left-hander allowed four runs -- two earned -- and six hits in 6 1/3 innings.
"Today was a battle," Saunders said. "I was scuffling with my curveball the first five innings and couldn't throw it over for strikes, so I had to go to Plan B - which was use the changeup, keep the ball down, try to get ahead of guys and let the defense work for me."
Rodriguez pitched a scoreless ninth for his 34th save in 36 attempts, tying John Smoltz's 2003 record for the most before the All-Star break. The right-hander has a 1.93 ERA in 40 appearances and 35 strikeouts in 37 1-3 innings.
"I just want to do my job and not worry about records or anything else," said Rodriguez, who is 23 saves from the season record set by Bobby Thigpen of the Chicago White Sox in 1990. "I just want to stay healthy the rest of the year. Every time they call out to the bullpen, I've been ready to get it done."
Rodriguez lost his salary arbitration hearing in February. He asked for $12.5 million and got $10 million after averaging 44 saves over the previous three seasons. He can become a free agent at the end of this season.
"I've been putting up numbers year by year and haven't gotten the recognition I think I should be getting, but I can't control what people say," Rodriguez added. "I'll just keep doing my job. That's what they pay me for. If you pulled out my numbers and compared them, they're as good as anybody else's who's been doing this job. It's probably too soon to say that, because I've only been closing for four years, but that's how I feel."
Oakland manager Bob Geren, who hadn't used a pinch-hitter since May 27, used two in the ninth against K-Rod. Daric Barton batted for Donnie Murphy and struck out. Kurt Suzuki hit for Rajai Davis and grounded out to end the game. Oakland's pinch-hitters are hitless in their last 22 at-bats with 12 strikeouts.
Earlier Wednesday, Oakland placed six-time Gold Glove third baseman Eric Chavez on the 15-day disabled list because of a sore right shoulder. It's the second trip to the DL this season for the 30-year-old Chavez, who didn't make his season debut until May 29 after offseason surgery on his back and right shoulder. He had been limited to DH duty since June 22.
A's shortstop Bobby Crosby, the only player to start in each of the team's first 84 games, was removed for a pinch-runner in the eighth after straining his left hamstring running out an infield single. He is day-to-day.
Keith Foulke (0-3) came in to face Casey Kotchman with two outs, a runner on second and the A's leading 3-2 in the sixth. Kotchman pulled an inside pitch down the right-field line for a double that scored Torii Hunter with the tying run. Rivera followed with his first homer of the season - a two-run shot to left that gave the Angels a 5-3 lead.
Oakland starter Dana Eveland was charged with three runs and four hits over 5 2/3 innings and struck out four. It was the fourth time this season he left the game with a lead and the bullpen didn't hold it.
- Angels RHP John Lackey was named AL pitcher of the month for the second time in his career after going 5-0 with a 1.16 ERA in his five starts in June. He also won the award in July 2006, going 5-1 with a 2.08 ERA and two shutouts -- including a one-hitter against Oakland.
- The A's purchased the contract of INF Wes Bankston from Triple-A Sacramento to fill Chavez's roster spot. He started at 1B and was 0-for-4 in his major league debut.