Gonzalez pitches A’s past Angels
OAKLAND – Gio Gonzalez hardly had his best stuff in this outing and he still looked good. Oakland’s offense gave the pitcher plenty of wiggle room.
Gonzalez tossed six innings to win a season-best third straight start, Kevin Kouzmanoff hit a two-run homer and the Athletics snapped a four-game losing streak with an 8-0 victory over the Los Angeles Angels on Friday night.
Gonzalez (13-8) has a 1.04 ERA over his last four starts and improved to 7-3 at home this season with a 2.59 ERA. The left-hander allowed four hits, struck out six and walked three. Manager Bob Geren told his pitcher afterward it was good he found a way to win despite the struggle.
“It was battling all the way through,” Gonzalez said. “You see something like this and it shows we wanted to win tonight. We wanted to stop the bleeding. It all started with the bats. We needed a good come back coming back to Oakland.”
Coco Crisp, Rajai Davis and Gabe Gross all hit RBI singles and Jack Cust drew a bases-loaded walk from Angels starter Scott Kazmir (8-13) in the first to put the A’s ahead.
Kazmir lost his third straight start, fourth consecutive decision and eighth decision in nine.
Not long ago, these clubs regularly played games that counted in September. Neither is in the playoff chase in the final month of 2010.
“There’s not just one thing that’s going to get everybody going,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “Some guys are having good at-bats and some guys are struggling with some things. There’s been a lot of inconsistency in our offense up to this point.”
Cliff Pennington added a solo homer in the A’s six-run seventh, his first since April 27 at Tampa Bay. The drive snapped a 105-game and 355 at-bat homerless streak.
Pennington knew it had been a while. This time, he knew the ball was gone.
“I wasn’t trying to hit one,” he said with a smile. “I’m not a guy who worries too much about home runs.”
Oakland avoided matching its worst losing streak of the season, a five-game skid from May 12-16. The A’s bounced back after being swept in a four-game series at New York.
Gonzalez allowed singles to Torii Hunter and Juan Rivera in the fourth but got out of the inning unscathed. The Angels didn’t really threaten otherwise.
Kazmir struggled from the start and allowed a season-high six walks in 5 2-3 innings. Daric Barton drew a one-out walk in the first, then two batters later Kazmir plunked Kouzmanoff and Mark Ellis consecutively to load the bases. Kazmir received a mound visit from pitching coach Mike Butcher before he faced Ellis.
Cust then drew a bases-loaded walk to make it 1-0.
“For the most part I felt like I was fighting myself,” Kazmir said. “The first inning, it just felt like I was trying to do anything I could to get it over the plate. Walks hurt today. When I was warming up it felt like I didn’t have good direction. I was fighting myself to stay in line. After the second inning I felt fine.”
The Angels are still looking for their first consecutive wins since a three-game sweep of Kansas City from Aug. 9-11 – and first on the road since Aug. 6-7 at Detroit.
The field was beaten up and hardly looked its best following the Oakland Raiders’ preseason finale that ended late Thursday. The outfield was particularly bad, with a huge dirt patch right smack in center field.
Neither team took batting practice outside before the game, instead doing their hitting in the indoor cage.
Davis stole his 43rd base in the seventh, matching his career high established last season.
Notes: Kazmir’s walks were his most since April 18, 2009. … Angels RHP Joel Pineiro, on the DL since July 28 with a strained left oblique, is set to throw a bullpen this weekend and then a 60-pitch simulated game Tuesday. Scioscia then will see about getting him back in the rotation. … Oakland’s Eric Chavez, a former six-time Gold Glove winner at 3B, had to stop playing in rehab games in Arizona because his injured neck bothered him again – and he won’t play again this year and perhaps not again. … Injured A’s pitchers Josh Outman and Joey Devine were in town to do some throwing after spending the year in Arizona rehabilitating from reconstructive Tommy John elbow surgery. Both are scheduled to pitch simulated games Saturday. … Angels 1B Kendry Morales, who suffered a season-ending broken leg May 29 while celebrating at home plate, is coming along fine. “There should be no longterm effects and he should be 100 percent next year,” Scioscia said. … A’s reliever Brad Ziegler had a scare in the ninth when a piece of splintered bat got him behind the right shoulder on his back. He was sore afterward but only had a scratch.
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