The A’s rallied in the top of the ninth Wednesday, which only set the stage for their heartbreak in the bottom half at Angel Stadium.
Albert Pujols launched a two-run homer to left off Ryan Dull and the Angels dealt the A’s an 8-6 walk-off defeat, sending Oakland to its fifth consecutive loss.
The winning rally came after the A’s tied it in the top of the ninth on Stephen Vogt’s RBI single off Cam Bedrosian.
Kendall Graveman turned in his shortest start in nearly two months, and the A’s continued wobbling to the finish line of this nine-game road trip.
They commanded three different early leads Wednesday, only to see the Angels rally back and tie it each time. Graveman lasted just four-plus innings, giving up two home runs and failing to complete five innings of the fist time since June 12.
The A’s got to Jered Weaver for four runs through the first four innings, but the Angels battled back three times to tie the score off Graveman, then took the lead for good in the fifth. Graveman came in having allowed just two home runs over his previous seven outings. But after taking the mound with a 4-2 lead in the bottom of the fourth, he allowed homers to Jefry Marte and Cliff Pennington in a three-batter span to tie it.
Mike Trout opened the fifth with a broken-bat single just off the glove of A’s second baseman Jed Lowrie, and Pujols brought him around to score with a double to the right field corner. That was Graveman’s final batter. The Angels scored again that inning to make it 6-4 with Andrew Triggs on the mound, when Ji-Man Choi’s grounder scored Pujols. That closed the book on Graveman, who tied his season high with six runs allowed.
For Pennington, who once held down the A’s starting shortstop job, it was a rare burst of power. He hasn’t hit more than three homers since 2012. He also made a difficult turn on an eighth-inning double play that stranded what was at that time the tying run at third for the A’s.
Starting pitching report
It’s been a rough go for Oakland’s starters on this road trip. The rotation has a collective 7.88 ERA through eight games of the nine-game trek. Graveman’s failure to get a shutdown inning in three consecutive frames called to mind his early-season struggles in that department, as the A’s claimed the lead in the second, third and fourth innings only to see the Angels fight back to tie it each time. Wednesday’s outing also marked the first time since May 8 that Graveman gave up multiple home runs in the same game.
Dull took the mound for the bottom of the ninth, and a defensive miscue put the winning run on base. Third baseman Ryon Healy uncorked an errant throw to first on Mike TRout’s grounder and that set the stage for Pujols, who crushed a 3-1 pitch deep over the left field wall.
At the plate
Vogt entered the night just 2-for-29 over his past seven games. He came to bat in the ninth and delivered a tying single to left-center off Cam Bedrosian, who had earned a save in the Angels’ win Tuesday.
The A’s chipped away early against Jered Weaver (9-8***). Khris Davis and Yonder Alonso singled to open the second, and Billy Butler’s double-play grounder brought Davis home for the game’s first run. The Angels leant a helping hand in the third, when third baseman Yunel Escobar mishandled Stephen Vogt’s grounder and allowed Jed Lowrie to score for a 2-1 A’s lead. It was a 2-2 game in the fourth when Ryon Healy came through with a two-out, two-run double to the gap in right-center to put the A’s back up 4-2. Healy doubled again in the seventh, and the rookie is showing a knack for driving the ball to the opposite field when he’s swinging it well.
But the A’s had golden opportunities to jump ahead in the late innings. Healy and Danny Valencia each hit into double plays with the bases loaded in the eighth and ninth to squelch those rallies.
In the field
The Angels’ eighth inning around the horn double play was especially impressive, as Yunel Escobar’s throw skipped to Pennington, who scooped the throw and made a fast relay throw to first to complete the play.
Tonight's attendance in Anaheim was 37,306.
Jesse Hahn (2-4, 5.53) returns to the majors with a chance to grow some roots in Oakland’s rotation. He threw 7 2/3 innings of one-run ball in his last big league start, July 24 against Tampa Bay. On Thursday he’ll oppose Tim Lincecum (2-5, 8.49), who has allowed four or more earned runs in five of his eight starts with the Angels. First pitch is 4:05 p.m.