ANAHEIM — There is worse damage Albert Pujols could do to a pitcher with the bases loaded than what he did Monday night.
That probably made it sting even more for A’s reliever Ryan Dull, after Pujols’ bases-loaded dribbler in the eighth wound up scoring the winning run as the Los Angeles Angels defeated the A’s 2-1 at Angel Stadium.
Pujols, owner of 591 career home runs and a future Hall of Famer, tapped a comebacker that might have had Dull thinking “force out” at home. But the pitcher couldn’t field the ball cleanly and his only play was at first, as Yunel Escobar scooted home to break a 1-1 tie.
With that, the A’s wasted another terrific effort from rookie Sean Manaea, who fired seven innings of one-run ball and limited the Angels to four hits. The problem was the A’s slipped back into the offensive funk that marked most of their last homestand. They mustered just four hits off four Angels pitchers after starter Jered Weaver left following the fifth with tightness in his lower back.
Former Athletic Andrew Bailey shut the door in the ninth for his second save this season against Oakland.
Starting pitching report
Manaea has been excellent in three starts since returning from a strained back muscle. He’s allowed just one run combined over 18 innings in those starts. On Monday, he gave up Mike Trout’s solo homer in the fourth — No. 29 on the season for the MVP candidate. But that was the only blip on the radar from the first to the sixth, as Manaea retired 15 of 16 during one stretch. The lefty struck out three and walked one. Since coming off the disabled list June 29 for a forearm strain, Manaea has posted a 2.72 ERA in 14 starts (15 games). He came up particularly big in the sixth, coaxing a 5-4-3 inning-ending double play from Pujols with two runners on to keep it a tie game.
Kole Calhoun doubled down the right field line in the eighth off Dull to put runners on second and third with one out. The A’s intentionally walked Trout to bring up Pujols with the bases-loaded, and the go-ahead tapper would follow.
At the plate
Weaver allowed just one hit over five innings, that hit being Stephen Vogt’s homer to right in the sixth that evened the score. Vogt came in hitting just .205 in September.
In the field
It won’t show up in the box score, but Yonder Alonso had an excellent game at first base, scooping several short-hop throws out of the dirt. He helped Manaea considerably in the first. The pitcher himself threw low and off-target on Pujols’ comebacker, but Alonso deftly shifted to the outside of the bag and picked the throw. He dug another throw out of the dirt from Ryon Healy on Jefry Marte’s grounder, and that stranded two runners in scoring position.
On Calhoun’s eighth-inning double, it appeared Alonso may have had a shot at the ball, but it was hit sharply and got by him quickly.
The announced turnout was 29,934.
Daniel Mengden (2-8, 5.74) carries a 4.25 ERA in five career road starts compared to a 6.86 ERA in eight home starts. He takes the hill Tuesday with Ricky Nolasco (7-14, 4.60) going for the Angels in the 7:05 p.m. game.