Oakland at Anaheim

L.A. Angels
W: J. Saunders (15-7) L: E. Gonzalez (0-4)
S: B. Fuentes (45)
HR: OAK - None   ANA - K. Morales (32), M. Napoli (19)

Angels 7, Athletics 4

CBSSports.com wire reports

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- With a few timely hits and a few more timely outs by their bullpen Sunday, the Los Angeles Angels made certain they'll welcome the Texas Rangers on Monday with a simple formula to seal their playoff fate.

One win and they're in.

Kendry Morales homered and drove in three runs, and the Angels snapped their first four-game losing streak of the season with a 7-4 victory over the Oakland Athletics.

Morales had three hits and Mike Napoli also homered for the Angels (91-64), who blew most of an early five-run lead before hanging on for their first victory since last Monday, putting them on the brink of their fifth AL West title in six years.

 Playoff Race

While the Angels finished up with Brian Fuentes' 45th save, second-place Texas was simultaneously blowing a three-run lead in the ninth inning of a 7-6 loss to Tampa Bay. Those results reduced Los Angeles' magic number to two for clinching its third straight division title -- and probably a first-round matchup with Boston for the third straight season.

Texas opens a four-game series at Angel Stadium on Monday night with Tommy Hunter going against Los Angeles' Ervin Santana.

"We've never had an opportunity to clinch with the team that's right behind us on the field with us," said Joe Saunders, who won for the sixth time in seven starts. "It's going to be intense, that's for sure. We control our own destiny, and we know what's in front of us."

The Angels blew a seven-run lead during Saturday's 15-10 loss to the A's, but Los Angeles' bullpen escaped two big late-inning jams in this series finale. After Darren Oliver and Kevin Jepsen both wiggled out of trouble, Fuentes coolly reclaimed the major league saves lead.

"You want to take care of your own house, your own business, and it's something we haven't been doing a good job of this month," said Angels manager Mike Scioscia, who claimed not to know his club's magic number before the game. "It doesn't matter that the team coming in is chasing you. We still have to play like we did today."

Saunders (15-7) pitched six scoreless innings for Los Angeles before falling apart in the seventh, allowing the first five batters to reach base as Oakland trimmed the Angels' big lead to 5-3. The A's got within one run in the eighth on pinch-hitter Adam Kennedy's sacrifice fly, but Maicer Izturis hit a two-run double later in the inning for Los Angeles.

"They look strong to me," Kennedy said of his former team. "Everybody's playing pretty consistent, so I think it'll be a little different story this year. Their starting pitching is in line, and their offense is a little stronger and a little more mature."

Edgar Gonzalez (0-4) remained winless in six starts for the A's, yielding seven hits and five runs in five innings. Mark Ellis and Cliff Pennington had two hits apiece for last-place Oakland, which had won 13 of 16 as the majors' best team in September.

"We've got a little bit to go," said Jack Cust, who struck out against Jepsen to end the eighth. "They're a really good team over there, and they've been on top of the division for a while. But anytime you've got pitching like we have, with young guys who should be around here for a while ... we can make a push."

Morales followed an RBI single in the first with a two-run homer in the third, hitting an 0-2 pitch deep into right field for his 32nd homer. The Cuban first baseman has 102 RBI in his first full major league season, becoming the first Angels first baseman to reach three digits since Mo Vaughn in 2000.

"When the season started, I kind of thought 25 (homers) and 80 (RBI) would be good things to shoot for," Morales said through a translator. "I'm not going to complain about overshooting those goals."

Saunders yielded seven hits and didn't walk a batter until the seventh. He has been outstanding since returning from a brief stint on the disabled list to rest his left shoulder, muscling his way back into Los Angeles' playoff rotation.

Saunders was thoroughly in control during the first six innings, allowing just one runner to reach third base and retiring 10 straight before the seventh, when Ellis' single started a three-run rally. Saunders was chased by Landon Powell's RBI single, but Oliver escaped a bases-loaded jam by inducing Rajai Davis' double-play grounder.


The Rangers had won five straight series against Los Angeles before the Angels took two of three last week. ... Ellis' error on a relay throw from the outfield in the eighth inning was Oakland's 11th error in five games. The A's have made at least one error in a season-high nine straight games. ... Gonzalez hit Angels LF Juan Rivera with pitches in each of his first two plate appearances, with the second incident prompting visible anger from Rivera.

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

K. Morales
AB 3
R 2
H 3
HR 1

M. Ellis
AB 3
R 1
H 2
HR 0

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Oakland Athletics
Rajai Davis, CF5000002 .309
Daric Barton, 1B4110001 .281
Mark Ellis, 2B3120100 .272
Nomar Garciaparra, DH4110013 .276
Bobby Crosby, 3B2100100 .219
   a- Adam Kennedy, PH-3B0001000 .293
Matt Carson, RF3011000 .417
   b- Jack Cust, PH-RF1000011 .243
Landon Powell, C4011010 .231
Eric Patterson, LF3010012 .267
   c- Kurt Suzuki, PH1000000 .272
Cliff Pennington, SS3020110 .286
a-hit a sacrifice fly for Crosby in the 8th
b-struck out for Carson in the 8th
c-popped out for Patterson in the 9th
2B - Daric Barton (11, Oliver), Cliff Pennington (11, Saunders)
SF - Adam Kennedy (3)
RBI - Adam Kennedy (63), Matt Carson (4), Landon Powell (30)
Team LOB - 6
DP - E. Gonzalez-Pennington-Barton, Ellis-Kennedy
E - Mark Ellis (5, Missed catch of throw)
Oakland Athletics
Edgar Gonzalez (L,0-4) 5755112 5.51
Jon Meloan 1000110 0.00
Jerry Blevins 1.1111020 4.82
Brad Ziegler 0.2211000 3.20
HBP - J. Rivera (by Edgar Gonzalez), J. Rivera (by Edgar Gonzalez)
WP - Edgar Gonzalez (4)
Pitches-Strikes - Edgar Gonzalez 88-56, Jon Meloan 15-8, Jerry Blevins 20-14, Brad Ziegler 8-5
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Edgar Gonzalez 6-7
Batters Faced - Edgar Gonzalez 24, Jon Meloan 3, Jerry Blevins 5, Brad Ziegler 3
Los Angeles Angels
Chone Figgins, 3B4000011 .300
Bobby Abreu, RF4110011 .292
Torii Hunter, CF4110012 .298
Vladimir Guerrero, DH4111001 .292
Kendry Morales, 1B3233100 .303
Juan Rivera, LF2010001 .288
    Reggie Willits, PR-LF0100000 .217
Maicer Izturis, 2B4012013 .292
Mike Napoli, C4111001 .268
Erick Aybar, SS2010100 .303
2B - Bobby Abreu (28, E. Gonzalez), Maicer Izturis (22, Ziegler)
HR - Kendry Morales (32, E. Gonzalez), Mike Napoli (19, E. Gonzalez)
RBI - Vladimir Guerrero (48), Kendry Morales 3 (102), Maicer Izturis 2 (63), Mike Napoli (52)
2-OUT RBI - Vladimir Guerrero (17), Kendry Morales 3 (42)
SB - Torii Hunter (18, 2nd base off E. Gonzalez/Powell)
CS - Erick Aybar (7, 2nd base by Meloan/Powell)
Team LOB - 4
DP - Morales-Aybar-Saunders, Izturis-Aybar-Morales
Los Angeles Angels
Joe Saunders (W,15-7) 6733130 4.62
Darren Oliver (H,18) 1111100 2.83
Kevin Jepsen (H,17) 1000120 4.82
Brian Fuentes (S,45) 1100000 4.13
WP - Joe Saunders (5), Kevin Jepsen (6)
Pitches-Strikes - Joe Saunders 89-52, Darren Oliver 9-5, Kevin Jepsen 17-8, Brian Fuentes 16-12
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Joe Saunders 8-6, Darren Oliver 1-1, Brian Fuentes 1-2
Batters Faced - Joe Saunders 25, Darren Oliver 4, Kevin Jepsen 4, Brian Fuentes 4
Game Information
Attendance - 38718
Game Time - 2:37
Temperature - 78
Umpires - Home - Ted Barrett, First Base - Greg Gibson, Second Base - Tim McClelland, Third Base - Andy Fletcher