ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — One astonishing throw by Yoenis Cespedes couldn’t mask the Oakland Athletics’ more mundane failures in another loss to the Los Angeles Angels.
Collin Cowgill hit a two-out homer in the 14th inning, and the Angels outlasted the A’s 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.
“He’s capable of doing just about anything on the baseball field, and that’s just another example,” teammate Jed Lowrie said.
Nick Punto doubled and scored on Lowrie’s sacrifice fly in the eighth for the A’s, who have lost four of six. Los Angeles trimmed Oakland’s lead in the AL West to 2 1/2 games.
Oakland’s struggles were numerous. Josh Donaldson dropped into a career-worst 0-for-21 slump and set up the Angels’ first run with his fourth throwing error in two days at third base. Lowrie hit a career-worst 0-for-20 slump, and Punto’s double was the A’s only extra-base hit.
“They’re grinding right now,” Oakland manager Bob Melvin said. “It’s difficult to go this long without a hit, and the longer it goes, the tougher it is. But you’re got to fight through it, and it makes you tougher. Offensively we’ve sputtered a little bit, but overall, the numbers have been good. You’re not going to score 10 runs every game, and guys are going to go through tough stretches.”
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. The Cuban left fielder bobbled Mike 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 money.”
After five scoreless innings following Cespedes’ throw, 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 Trout in the sixth for the Angels, and Cory Rasmus (2-0) pitched two hitless innings.
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.
Santiago faced no real trouble until the sixth, when he struck out 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 Monday, tried to start a double play.
“It was a tough play (for Donaldson), but he ended up having a similar play and made it to help us get out of it,” Pomeranz said. “I think I work J.D. pretty hard when I’m on the mound because he’s always diving all over the place.”
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.