About two hours after Yoenis Cespedes made a defensive play for the ages, Collin Cowgill decided not to watch while the Oakland left fielder chased after his long drive in the 14th inning.
Cespedes couldn’t do a thing about this one as Cowgill delivered another resilient win for the Los Angeles Angels.
Cowgill hit a two-out homer, and the Angels outlasted the Oakland 2-1 on Tuesday night for their fifth consecutive victory.
The Angels bounced back after Cespedes kept it tied in the eighth with a throw that will be a fixture on highlight reels for years, cutting down Howie Kendrick at the plate with a 300-foot heave on the fly from deep down the left-field line.
After five ensuing scoreless innings, Cowgill abruptly connected against Jeff Francis (0-1), driving a two-strike pitch just over Cespedes’ head into the bullpens beyond left field.
“I was just hoping it had enough on it to get it over his head,” said Cowgill, who had three hits. “That guy has made some incredible plays on us the last couple of times.”
Josh Hamilton drove in Mike Trout in the sixth for the Angels, who trimmed Oakland’s lead in the AL West to 2 1/2 games.
The Angels could have ended it earlier, but Albert Pujols and Kendrick both were thrown out at the plate – although it was tough to blame Kendrick after Cespedes made his mind-boggling throw in the eighth.
“He’s capable of doing just about anything on the field, and that’s just another example,” said Jed Lowrie, who drove in Oakland’s only run.
The Cuban left fielder bobbled Trout’s double and chased it down before his soaring throw went straight to catcher Derek Norris to nip Kendrick, who had already rounded third when Cespedes released it.
“When that ball rolled to the corner, I thought Howie was going to score standing up,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “He threw a guided missile that was right on the .”
Cory Rasmus (2-0) pitched two hitless innings for Los Angeles’ maligned bullpen, which yielded one run in eight excellent innings even without closer Ernesto Frieri, who had pitched in four straight games.
Nick Punto doubled and scored on Lowrie’s sacrifice fly in the eighth for the AL-leading A’s, who have lost four of six.
“Hey, what can you do?” manager Bob Melvin said. “They played as hard as they could, both teams did. After a while, everybody is trying to win it with one swing. Unfortunately, we weren’t at our best today offensively.”
Pitching and defense dominated the latest meeting of California’s division rivals. Neither starting pitcher allowed a runner into scoring position until the sixth.
Hector Santiago struck out eight during six innings of three-hit ball in his first start in five weeks for the Angels. Drew Pomeranz pitched seven innings of four-hit ball for the A’s, allowing only an unearned run.
The Angels got a terrific fill-in start from Santiago, recalled from Triple-A Salt Lake after Tyler Skaggs went on the disabled list. Santiago lost his spot in Los Angeles’ rotation May 7 after going 0-6, but the Angels’ offseason from the White Sox limited powerful Oakland to three singles and one walk.
“I had clean mechanics and felt like everything was smooth,” Santiago said. “That’s what I went down there to work on, and the results came out.”
Santiago faced no real trouble until the sixth, when he struck out Josh Donaldson to strand two runners.
Pomeranz yielded just two singles before Trout drew a leadoff walk in the sixth. Pujols reached on a throwing error when Donaldson, who made three throwing errors from third base Monday, tried to start a double play.
Hamilton’s single scored Trout, but Pujols ran straight through third-base coach Gary DiSarcina’s stop sign and was easily thrown out at the plate.
Oakland tied it against reliever Mike Morin after Punto hit a leadoff double.
After Cespedes kept it tied, the A’s put two more runners on in the ninth, but Joe Smith got John Jaso to ground out.
NOTES: Angels rookie Cam Bedrosian pitched two extra innings of one-hit relief. He is the 22-year-old son of 1987 NL Cy Young Award winner Steve Bedrosian. … Angels SS Erick Aybar swung and hit Norris in the back of the head with his follow-through in the fourth. Baltimore’s Manny Machado twice did the same thing to Norris last weekend, and the A’s were furious after Machado expressed no remorse when Norris had to leave the game. Aybar immediately checked on Norris, who was fine this time. … Donaldson’s three throwing errors Monday all went to first base.
Updated June 11, 2014