ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Pinch-hitter John Jaso came through with a two-run homer off closer Ernesto Frieri in the ninth inning, sending the Oakland Athletics to a 3-2 victory over the Los Angeles Angels on Monday night.
Yoenis Cespedes also went deep for the A’s, offsetting Albert Pujols’ 496th home run.
Frieri (0-1) was trying to preserve the lead for starter Hector Santiago when Josh Donaldson led off the ninth with a single. One out later, Jaso batted for Derek Norris and drove a 1-2 pitch deep into the right-field seats for his first homer of the season and the first by an A’s pinch-hitter.
Jaso has six homers and 21 RBIs at Angel Stadium along with a .424 average, the highest by any player with at least 75 plate appearances at the “Big A.”
The Angels lost a video challenge in the ninth after Howie Kendrick was ruled out by first base umpire Chris Segal on a grounder in the hole that second baseman Nick Punto bobbled before throwing to Daric Barton.
Jim Johnson (1-2) got the victory with a scoreless eighth, and Luke Gregerson earned his second save.
Santiago allowed a run and five hits while striking out three in his fourth start for the Angels after spending his three previous big league seasons with the Chicago White Sox. A two-out homer by Cespedes in the fourth was Oakland’s only run against the left-hander.
Jesse Chavez allowed two runs – one earned – and four hits in seven innings with nine strikeouts and no walks. Oakland’s starting pitchers have yielded three earned runs or fewer in every game so far, the second-longest streak by an A’s rotation at the beginning of a season since a 16-game stretch in 1981, when manager Billy Martin’s starters were Mike Norris, Rick Langford, Matt Keough, Steve McCatty and Brian Kingman.
Pujols, closing in on 500 homers, a celebrated milestone achieved by 25 players in major league history, has four homers and eight RBIs in his last six games after driving in only one run in 30 at-bats over his first seven games.
The three-time NL MVP also had an RBI single in the opener of a 19-game season series between the AL West rivals, who have combined to win 11 division titles over the past 14 years. The two-time Gold Glove first baseman frustrated the A’s in the eighth by starting a slick double play on Jed Lowrie’s grounder.
Chavez struck out three batters in the first, but faced six that inning and gave up a run-scoring single by Pujols. The Angels’ slugger made it 2-0 in the third with a drive that bounced around the rock formation in left-center as a couple of stadium workers peeled off another number to update his career home run total on a sign above the batter’s eye in center field.
NOTES: Angels LF Josh Hamilton stopped by Angel Stadium for the first time since undergoing surgery on Friday to repair a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his left thumb, which he injured on a headfirst slide into first base last Tuesday at Seattle. “I’m not going to put a timeframe on it,” said Hamilton, who is expected to miss six to eight weeks. “I’m just going to do what I need to do, as far as listening to the doctor, in terms of keeping it stable for the first two or three weeks. Once they tell me it’s healed, I’ll start doing rehab and being aggressive with it.” … Oakland CF and leadoff hitter Coco Crisp didn’t play because of tightness in his left hamstring. … Los Angeles 3B David Freese was 0 for 4 with two strikeouts. He has five hits and 13 Ks in his first 43 at-bats with the Angels.