After sweeping the Angels at home two weeks ago, the last thing the Oakland wanted was for Los Angeles to return the favor.
Stephen Vogt hit his first home run of the season, a two-run shot against Jered Weaver, and Tommy Milone pitched into the seventh inning to help the A’s beat their AL West rivals 7-1 Wednesday night and increase their lead in the division to 3 1/2 games.
“That was a big one, no doubt about it,” manager Bob Melvin said. “I mean, with them playing as well as they are, and the fact that Weaver’s been pretty tough on us, that’s a pretty tall order for Milone. And I don’t know that you can pitch much better than he did.”
Milone (4-3) allowed a run and six hits in 6 2-3 innings with four strikeouts and two walks. The left-hander is 4-0 with a 2.00 ERA in his last seven starts overall, and 4-0 with a 3.54 ERA in five career starts at Angel Stadium.
Weaver (7-5) gave up four runs and six hits through 5 1-3 innings in his 14th start, matching his shortest outing of the season. In his last two starts against Oakland, the three-time All-Star has allowed nine earned runs in 11 1-3 innings.
“He’s one of the best pitchers in the game, and most of the time he’s going to get the best of most teams,” Oakland’s Coco Crisp said. “It just so happened that these last couple of games against him we’ve put up some runs.”
Both center fielders made home run-saving catches – Mike Trout robbing Yoenis Cespedes to end the first inning and Crisp pulling back Josh Hamilton’s drive leading off the second.
“I knew it was going to be close to the wall,” Crisp said. “It’s always exciting. I try to take as much pride in defense as possible. And when you’re able to make a play for your pitcher, it’s gratifying.”
Cespedes snuffed out an Angels rally in the seventh with his major league-leading ninth outfield assist, throwing out Albert Pujols at third after misplaying his double to left field. Cespedes got a huge assist from third baseman Josh Donaldson, who caught the throw going away from the bag and made a diving tag on Pujols.
Tuesday night, Cespedes threw out Howie Kendrick at the plate with a 300-foot throw from the left field corner after misplaying a double by Trout – the third time he threw out an Angels runner at home this season.
“He’s got a few assists this year,” Melvin said. “That was a tough throw he had to make tonight, and I’m sure that’s why Albert tried to run on him there. … Throwing it right on the money from a long way away on the fly was the only way he was going to get him, and he did it again. He never ceases to amaze.”
The A’s broke a 1-all tie with three runs in the sixth. Cespedes led off with a double that deflected off the glove of third baseman John McDonald as he dove toward the line, and Brandon Moss hit a dribbler to the left of the mound that got past Weaver for a single with the Angels overshifting to the right side.
Cespedes scored the go-ahead run on Jed Lowrie’s sacrifice fly. Vogt, making his sixth start since his recall from Triple-A Sacramento on June 1 and his fourth behind the plate, chased Weaver with a drive deep into the right field seats on the right-hander’s 104th pitch.
“I just tried to see something up against Weaver. Fortunately it was a fastball and I was able to get to it,” Vogt said.
Weaver has allowed a home run in six consecutive starts – equaling his career-worst stretch, which occurred in his final six outings of 2011.
“It was rough tonight, obviously,” Weaver said. “I’ve had better games, and one bad pitch was the difference in this one.”
Oakland tacked on three more runs in the ninth against Cory Rasmus. Crisp and Cespedes had RBI singles, and Eric Sogard scored when the rookie right-hander tried to pick off Crisp at first base and threw the ball away.
Lowrie ended a career-worst 0-for-21 drought with an opposite-field single in the third.
Cespedes drove in Oakland’s first run with a third-inning single, and Hamilton drove in the Angels’ first run with a fourth-inning double off the glove of first baseman Moss.
NOTES: Oakland LHP Fernando Abad has stranded all 14 of his inherited baserunnners, while Angels RHP Fernando Salas has allowed all nine of his inherited runners to score. … The Angels are 13-18 against AL West teams and 23-11 against everyone else. … Oakland LHP Sean Doolittle has not allowed a run in a career-best 21 1-3 consecutive innings, and has 44 strikeouts with only one walk.
Updated June 12, 2014