Instant Replay: Vargas, Angels shut out A's
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ANAHEIM – Jason Vargas bottled up the Oakland A’s offense like few pitchers have in recent weeks.

The A’s didn’t advance a runner past first base and scraped together just four hits against the left-hander, and the Los Angeles Angels snapped Oakland’s five-game winning streak with a 3-0 victory at Angels Stadium.

The game wrapped in just 2 hours, 17 minutes.

It was a damaging defeat because the Boston Red Sox also lost, so the A’s missed a chance to tie Boston for the American League’s best record with four games left in the regular season. Should the A’s and Sox finish with an identical record after 162 games, the A’s own all tiebreaker advantages.

Their magic number remains two to clinch home field advantage for the American League Divisional Series as the No. 2 seed.

Oakland is quite familiar with Vargas (9-7) from his days with the Seattle Mariners. He entered with a 4.28 ERA but showed much better form than that figure suggested.

The A’s hadn’t been shut out since Aug. 4 in a 4-0 blanking by Texas.

Starting pitching report

Sidestepping major trouble, A.J. Griffin (14-10) turned in a solid five innings and kept himself seemingly in solid consideration for a playoff rotation spot. He allowed a homer to Howie Kendrick on his second batter of the game, but the only other runs off him came when Josh Hamilton’s bases-loaded blooper fell in for a two-run single in the third. That left runners on the corners, but after falling behind 3-0 to Mark Trumbo, Griffin struck him out to avoid further damage.

With runners on first and second and one out in the fifth, Griffin rang up Trout looking on a fastball and retired Hamilton on a fly to center to escape unscored upon. His final line: 5 innings, 5 hits, 3 runs, 1 walk, 7 strikeouts. The downside with the right-hander, needless to say, is the major league-leading 36 homers he’s served up (including a majors-high 21 on the road). But 25 of the homers have been solo shots, and that’s helped minimize the damage all year long.

Bullpen report

Lefty Jerry Blevins looked very sharp in relief of Griffin, retiring all six batters he faced and striking out two. Pat Neshek and Pedro Figueroa combined for a scoreless eighth inning.

At the plate

The A’s came in having scored at least eight runs in their past five games, but Vargas was dialed in. He faced just two over the minimum, struck out five and walked one. Of the five base runners he allowed, two were erased on double plays and Alberto Callaspo was thrown out easily by Hamilton trying to stretch a single into a double with the A’s trailing by three.

In the field

Neither team committed an error.

Up next

Dan Straily (10-7, 4.08) has allowed three hits or fewer while throwing at least five innings in each of his last four starts. It matches the longest such streak by an A’s pitcher since at least 1916. He’s also held opponents to a .125 batting average over that stretch. Is it enough to get him in the postseason rotation? Straily makes his case in Wednesday’s 12:35 p.m. matchup against the Angels’ Jered Weaver (10-8, 3.36).