Jeff Samardzija pitched a complete game, giving up one earned run, and still lost.
Adding to his frustration was the fact that the Oakland Athletics’ suddenly anemic offense was held to three hits by eight Los Angeles Angels pitchers.
Samardzija gave up an RBI single to Erick Aybar in the fourth inning and allowed another run to score on a wild pitch moments later. That was all it took to saddle the right-hander with a 2-0 defeat Saturday night.
“Against that team, it doesn’t matter what inning it is. You’ve still got to bring your `A’ game out there,” Samardzija said. “I knew that going in, and I was just trying to avoid that letdown inning and keep throwing up zeros.”
Samardzija (4-4) allowed four hits and no walks while striking out nine. The only other time he faced the Angels in the regular season was July 10, 2013, when he gave up nine runs in 4 2-3 innings and four homers – two by Josh Hamilton – in a 13-2 loss at Wrigley Field.
“I don’t know if Shark could pitch any better than he did tonight,” Oakland manager Bob Melvin said. “He was throwing 100 mph in the eighth, he had a great split, and as good a slider as we’ve seen from him all year.”
The A’s dropped four games behind the Angels in the AL West, their largest deficit of the season. They led the division by four games on Aug. 9 before going on their current 6-13 slide. Their only hits were infield singles by Josh Donaldson in the first and fourth, and a single by Sam Fuld in the ninth.
“We’re pressing some, offensively,” said Melvin, whose team has gone 22 innings without a run. “What we’re good at is passing the baton to the next guy, but every one of these guys wants to be the guy that gets big hits and gets us out of this thing. And it’s just not happening for us right now. We knew coming into this series that runs were going to be at a premium, and it has been.”
Cory Rasmus made his first major league start in place of Garrett Richards, out for the season because of a torn patellar tendon in his left knee. The 26-year-old right-hander threw 49 pitches over three innings – matching his longest stint in 43 relief appearances over two big league seasons – and allowed one hit while striking out six and walking none.
Michael Roth, recalled from Double-A Arkansas earlier in the day, relieved Rasmus and found himself in a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the fourth. He was replaced by Yoslan Herrera (1-1) after Jonny Gomes was sent up to pinch hit for Josh Reddick, and Gomes grounded into an inning-ending double play.
“We’re trying to take our best shot at that time, and they’re trying to match up, obviously,” Melvin said. “They did a great job with it and we didn’t come through. Other than Roth, we’ve seen all those guys. I mean, we knew it would be a bullpen day for them, and they handled it well.”
Herrera made only four pitches while helping the Angels win their fifth in a row to go a season-best 29 games over .500 (82-53). Former A’s closer Huston Street got three outs for his 11th save with the Angels and 35th overall this season, reducing their bullpen ERA to 3.31.
“They did what they had to do and they were able to piece it together with an open starter’s spot,” Samardzija said. “As for myself, it always feels good to go out there and do it yourself without having to use any guys in the bullpen and save them for the next day.”
Athletics: Center fielder and switch-hitting leadoff man Coco Crisp did not play because of neck stiffness, the result of a play he made trying to rob Chris Iannetta of a two-run homer on Friday night. The A’s have seven players on the disabled list.
Angels: No injury updates.
Athletics: Scott Kazmir (14-6, 3.08 ERA) is enjoying the best season of his 10-year career, despite giving up seven runs over three innings in a 9-4 loss to Jeff Weaver in Oakland last Sunday. The former Angels lefty has leveled off somewhat, going 3-3 with a 5.09 ERA in seven starts since the All-Star break. He was 11-3 with a 2.38 ERA in his first 19 outings.
Angels: Matt Shoemaker (13-4, 3.33) will attempt to tie the franchise rookie record for victories, shared by Dean Chance (1962), Marcelino Lopez (1965) and Frank Tanana (1974). The bearded right-hander, who began the season in the bullpen, will be making his first start against the A’s after winning four in a row.