ANAHEIM (CBS / AP) — Although the Oakland Athletics have a fraction of the Los Angeles Angels’ budget, three straight wins over their downstate rivals showed they just might have enough talent to compete with the elite this season.
Kurt Suzuki and Kila Ka’aihue drove in runs, Oakland scored two more on C.J. Wilson’s throwing error in his home debut, and the Athletics beat the struggling Angels 4-2 Thursday night, taking three of four in the series.
Oakland did it with only three hits against the Angels, who had 10 but committed three errors. The A’s jumped all over those miscues to build a four-run lead.
It wasn’t glamorous, but it might be a formula for success in Oakland.
“It builds a ton of confidence, especially after coming off a rough trip to Seattle,” Oakland outfielder Josh Reddick said. “To be able to pick it up against a pitching staff that’s supposed to be really good. And our pitching staff did one hell of a job against a tough lineup and keeping their hitters off balance. Tonight it didn’t go our way with the knocks, but we put enough pressure on them to make some errors and some big runs for us.”
Five relievers preserved the win for Tommy Milone (2-1), who allowed seven hits in five innings in his native Southern California to win the eighth start of his major league career. Milone even avoided giving up Albert Pujols’ first homer for the Angels when the slugger’s fifth-inning drive clipped the very top of the left-field fence, falling for a double.
“Whenever you can win a series, it’s always huge, especially against a good team like this,” Milone said. “They have good, strong hitting, and usually they play good defense and get good pitching. Luckily we were able to play a little bit better and come out with three Ws.”
Milone grew up just north of Los Angeles and pitched three seasons at USC before signing with Washington, which traded him to Oakland. He had a small but vocal cheering section at Angel Stadium.
“It feels great to come back home and be able to pitch well, especially with a lot of people coming out and supporting me,” Milone said. “This was the first game really that I’ve been able to pitch close to home, so I wanted to pitch well for them. I did hear them a little bit. I tried not to let it bother me, and it didn’t.”
After Suzuki drove a two-out RBI double into the left-field corner in the second, Wilson created his own trouble in the fourth. He issued two leadoff walks and allowed both runners to score when his throw to first on Seth Smith’s check-swing tapper skipped past Pujols. Ka’aihue then drove in Smith for his first RBI with the A’s.
Pujols reached on a one-out throwing error in the ninth, but Torii Hunter grounded into a game-ending double play. Grant Balfour earned his fourth save.
After hitting three doubles but scoring just once in Los Angeles’ seventh loss in nine games, Pujols claimed he still isn’t worried or frustrated by the Angels’ 4-9 start.
“That’s why we play 162 games,” Pujols said. “We can get a good streak going and forget about what happened in April. … We know that things could be better, but they’re not, and it’s not because we’re not trying.”
Pujols extended his hitting streak to nine games with his first three-hit game for Los Angeles, although his career-worst homer drought to open a season stretched to 13 games.
Wilson (2-1) labored through six innings of two-hit ball in his home debut for the Angels. Vernon Wells and Mark Trumbo drove in runs, but Los Angeles stranded 11. Erick Aybar made two errors after receiving his Gold Glove trophy and signing his new $35 million contract before the game.
Wilson opened the season with two stellar road victories after signing a $77.5 million deal to return to his native Orange County. He had eight strikeouts, but needed 102 pitches to get through his first five innings.
Wilson, who took full blame for his throwing error, rejected the notion that Los Angeles might feel pressure from expectations.
“It’s the major leagues,” Wilson said. “If you can’t handle pressure, you can go bag groceries or something.”
NOTES: Aybar was bumped from the leadoff spot to eighth in manager Mike Scioscia’s lineup after his .190 start to the season. Aybar went 2 for 4. … Pujols was the first Angels hitter with three doubles in a game since Chone Figgins on Aug. 19, 2009. … Milone’s two teams are 7-1 in his eight career starts.
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