ANAHEIM (CBS / AP) — Yoenis Cespedes took the day off, and so did the Oakland Athletics’ offense. Again.
Kendrys Morales hit his first homer in nearly two years and drove in four runs, and Jered Weaver recorded his 1,000th career strikeout while pitching five-hit ball into the seventh inning of the Los Angeles Angels’ 6-0 victory over the A’s on Monday night.
The Angels ace combined with three relievers on Oakland’s third shutout loss in six games, finished when LaTroy Hawkins struck out Jemile Weeks with the bases loaded in the ninth. The A’s have managed just 14 runs in their seven losses—half of those in an 8-7 loss to Seattle.
“We had some decent at-bats, better as we went along, and then the frustration mounts when you hit the ball right at people,” Oakland manager Bob Melvin said. “We’ll keep going through it.”
Josh Reddick had two hits, but also was the victim of Weaver’s milestone strikeout. Brandon McCarthy pitched into the eighth inning for the A’s, who have lost three straight.
McCarthy (0-2) yielded 11 hits and five runs while failing in his fourth attempt to get his first win of the season. The A’s never climbed out of the hole he created with wayward pitches to Albert Pujols and Morales in the first inning.
“It was pretty indicative of the whole night,” McCarthy said. “Every time I really wanted to throw something somewhere, I didn’t throw it. I got away with a few of them, but not that one (to Morales). Just not enough quality pitches.”
While the A’s gave a day of rest to Cespedes, the Angels’ own Cuban slugger hit a milestone homer.
Morales’ three-run shot in the first inning landed in nearly the same spot as his fateful game-ending grand slam on May 29, 2010 — right in front of the fake rock pile beyond the Big A’s center field fence. That homer nearly wrecked his career when he jumped on home plate to celebrate it, severely breaking his ankle and keeping him out of baseball for nearly two full seasons.
“It had been a long time,” Morales said through a translator. “I never lost faith. I knew I could do it. I just need to keep working and do it better.”
Morales touched home plate with his left foot before accepting congratulations from Howie Kendrick and Pujols, who singled in front of him. Morales finally returned to the Angels midway through spring training and got off to a strong start before going 1 for 18 on last week’s road trip—a slump erased by his three-hit performance against Oakland.
“I was happy he got around the bases in one piece,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said.
Morales staked Weaver (2-0) to a healthy lead, and the AL Cy Young runner-up retired his first 11 batters. Weaver struck out six, rolling his career total into quadruple digits when he fanned Reddick in the sixth inning.
“I’ve got them all in an Angel uniform, which is pretty great,” Weaver said. “”Any time you can stop a little bad run and mix in a win, it’s good.”
Morales added an eighth-inning double to score Pujols, who went 2 for 4 with a double. Pujols still hasn’t homered in 10 games with the Angels, but his new cleanup hitter provided plenty of power as Los Angeles opened a weeklong homestand with just its second win in six games.
The Angels returned shortly before dawn from a 2-4 road trip that left them at 3-6 in their hugely anticipated season.
After their fast start, they added three more runs in the eighth. After Morales’ RBI double, Chris Iannetta drew a bases-loaded walk from Andrew Carignan, who then allowed another run with a wild pitch.
Los Angeles’ bullpen struggled mightily on the road, but three relievers capably finished up the shutout even after the Angels infield made back-to-back, two-out errors in the ninth.
NOTES: Melvin said Carignan will be sent out Tuesday, and the A’s plan a second roster move as well. … Weaver is the eighth Angels pitcher with 1,000 strikeouts. He and his older brother, Jeff, became the sixth set of brothers in the big leagues with 1,000 strikeouts apiece. … Angels LHP Scott Downs pitched the eighth inning in his first appearance since Denard Span stepped on his right ankle last week, forcing him out of a game at Minnesota.
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