The Oakland Athletics arrived in Orange County eager to move back atop the AL West before Labor Day.
They headed back north with a struggling offense, umpiring complaints and a five-game deficit after the Los Angeles Angels swept them into September.
Mike Trout hit his career-high 31st homer and drove in three runs, Matt Shoemaker pitched seven shutout innings of five-hit ball, and the Angels completed a masterful four-game sweep of the A’s with an 8-1 victory Sunday.
Oakland, which led the AL West for nearly four straight months this season, now faces its biggest division deficit since May 25, 2013. The A’s held a lengthy closed-door meeting after the game, trying to get their minds around a thorough thrashing from their rivals.
“I definitely think something needed to be said,” third baseman Josh Donaldson said. “This is the time of the season where you need to start playing your best. And right now, we’re playing our worst.”
Los Angeles shut out the A’s for 29 consecutive innings during the series, and the sellout crowd loudly chanted “Sweep! Sweep!” as the Angels finished it off.
“It was embarrassing. Pathetic,” said A’s manager Bob Melvin, who was ejected in the second inning. “We don’t play like that. The last three games here were the worst I’ve seen this team play in I can’t remember how long. I feel bad for our fans to have to watch that.”
Scott Kazmir (14-7) got just four outs for the A’s, and he criticized home plate umpire Gerry Davis afterward. Kazmir also claimed Davis had been reprimanded by baseball officials for making a “cry-baby face” at the Oakland dugout Saturday.
Major League Baseball said it had no comment on Kazmir’s assertion.
“It’s important to rise above any personal issue and call a fair game,” Kazmir said. “We owe it to the game to do that. We really do. And what I saw from the video, I saw 10-plus pitches that I thought were right there. I don’t know if it has something to do with last night and how he got reprimanded or anything like that, but the professionalism is something that I have an issue with.
“No matter what happens on the field, some things are just unacceptable. When you constantly pitch inside and hit your spot every single time and have nothing to show for it, it’s frustrating,” he said.
Trout had a two-run single during a six-run second inning for Los Angeles, which has won 15 of 19. The A’s have lost 14 of 20, going 12-17 in August.
Chris Iannetta homered and had three hits for the Angels, who have the best record in the majors at 83-53. Outpitching the A’s vaunted staff and outhitting Oakland’s usually productive lineup, Los Angeles outscored the A’s 18-4 in the four-game set.
“We’re having fun and we’re winning ballgames, but it’s still August,” Trout said. “Can’t get too excited yet.”
Gordon Beckham and Kole Calhoun drew bases-loaded walks in the second from Kazmir, who matched his shortest start of the season. After Kazmir issued three straight walks and got the hook, Melvin was tossed for arguing with Davis.
After eight Angels relievers pitched a three-hit shutout Saturday night, Shoemaker (14-4) provided the bullpen with plenty of rest. The rookie right-hander capped a tremendous month by striking out seven and extending his personal scoreless innings streak to 23 1-3 innings while allowing no Oakland runners to reach third base.
Athletics: CF Coco Crisp sat out again after his wall collision Friday.
Angels: INF Grant Green came off the disabled list after missing 37 games with a lumbar strain.
Athletics: Jason Hammel (1-5, 5.77) opens a series with Seattle at the Coliseum on Monday night. Dunn should be available.
Angels: After Labor Day off, Hector Santiago (4-7, 3.28) pitches in Houston to open a 10-game trip.
Oakland got slugger Adam Dunn from the Chicago White Sox in a trade Sunday to help their slumping offense.
He can’t arrive soon enough: The A’s 29 straight innings without scoring a run was the third-longest streak in Oakland history. Oakland scored its first run since Thursday on Josh Reddick’s RBI single off Mike Morin in the eighth.