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Angels beat Athletics 2-0

April 29, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
Joe Saunders outpitched Greg Smith to remain undefeated in six starts, and the Los Angeles Angels beat Oakland 2-0 on Tuesday night to climb back into a first-place tie with the Athletics in the AL West. Saunders (5-0) combined with Francisco Rodriguez on the Angels' second shutout victory this season, scattering four hits over eight innings with five strikeouts and a walk. The left-hander, now 12-1 in his career after an Angels loss, gave the bullpen a much-needed rest following Monday's 14-2 defeat.

Saunders joined Frank Tanana as the only pitchers in the franchise's 48-year history to go 5-0 in April. Tanana accomplished the feat in 1978, finishing that season 18-12.

The Athletic got only one runner as far as second base until the eighth, when Donnie Murphy led off with a single and advanced on Chris Denorfia's sacrifice bunt. But Rajai Davis grounded out to shortstop, keeping Murphy pinned at second, and Saunders retired Kurt Suzuki on another grounder to short after a visit from pitching coach Mike Butcher.

Rodriguez pitched a hitless ninth for his major league-leading 11th save despite walking two batters. He retired Athletics RBI leader Emil Brown on a popup and got the final out with a help of shortstop Erick Aybar, who raced toward the left field stands and made an over-the-shoulder grab of Bobby Crosby's popup.

Rookie left-hander Greg Smith (2-1) allowed two runs and just three hits over eight innings as he went the distance for the first time in five big league starts. He struck out five and walked three.

Smith got six of his first seven outs on grounders before giving up two runs in the third. He issued a one-out walk to No.9 hitter Brandon Wood, who took third on Chone Figgins' double and scored on a wild pitch. Figgins came home on a hard grounder up the third base by Gary Matthews Jr., who was robbed of a hit by Murphy's diving stop behind the bag.

Notes: The game was played in 2 hours, 9 minutes. ... Angels RHP John Lackey, making his second minor league rehab start with Class-A Rancho Cucamonga after opening the season on the disabled list with a strained triceps, allowed a run and three hits and struck out two. He threw 34 pitches before a power failure hit the Lancaster, Calif., ballpark, then threw a 26-pitch simulated game in the bullpen. ... Smith recorded his fourth pickoff already this season when he caught Erick Aybar leaning too far in the fourth. No Oakland pitcher had more than two pickoffs all of last season. ... Oakland had won all of Smith's first four starts, two of which resulted in no-decisions. ... The Angels will call up a pitcher from Triple-A Salt Lake to start Thursday's series finale against Justin Duchscherer. RHP Dustin Moseley, who has a 7.30 ERA in his five starts, will pitch out of the bullpen for the time being. ... Saunders has a 7-0 career record in April with a 2.04 ERA.

 

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