A’s are golden in win over Angels

OAKLAND COLISEUM It was a pitcher’s duel but the A’s were able to mount yet another late comeback to defeat the Angels 3-1.

Derek Norris hit a two-run homer and Jed Lowrie’s RBI double in the seventh inning lifted Oakland to the Saturday afternoon victory, taking a 2-1 series lead.

Despite the lack of run support through the first six innings, Tommy Milone was brilliant for the A’s, tossing seven innings of four-hit ball giving up one run and keeping his team in the game. In his 114 pitches, he walked four, struck out six.

Los Angeles drew first blood and it looked as if it would be enough for the win. With one out in the top of the second, Josh Hamilton crushed an 0-1 pitch for his 15th home run of the year, a solo shot to the right-field bleachers, to give the Angels their 1-0 lead.

The Halos threatened again in the fourth inning, when Milone walked Alberto Callaspo and Chris Iannetta back-to-back with two outs, but got Erik Aybar to fly out to end the inning.

Milone’s counter-part, Angels starting pitcher Garrett Richards, was making just his fifth start all season. He began the year as a starter but moved to the bullpen in May. His last start was on April 30 against the A’s, when he allowed seven runs on eight hits in 5-2/3 innings, but there was no trace of that Richards on Saturday.

He threw five scoreless innings, giving up only three hits and striking out four while throwing 78 pitches. He pitched well enough to get the win, but the Angels bullpen, who ranked 20th in the league entering Saturday’s game with a 3.87 ERA, once again fell apart in the late innings.

Dane De La Rosa began the seventh inning for Anaheim and allowed  a lead-off walk Josh Reddick. After Chris Young reached on a fielder’s choice, the Angels brought in left-hander Scott Downs.

The A’s countered by pinch-hitting Norris for Stephen Vogt. The move worked out in Oakland’s favor, as Norris crushed his first-ever pinch-hit over the fence in left field to give the A’s a 2-1 lead.

Norris was really happy that he was able to pick up his teammate Milone:

A’s catcher Derek Norris

Video: CSN California

“He did a phenomenal job today. Not your prototypical Tommy, you know, walking some guys, but you know what? When he needed to, he made the pitches to get out of it. He battled, he scrapped, he poured his heart out of the mound, and he did a fantastic job of keeping them off the scoreboard … he kept us in the ballgame for a lot of innings and finally we came through in producing runs for him.”

Oakland added a two-out insurance run after a single to Coco Crisp and an RBI double by Lowrie. Grant Balfour pitched a perfect ninth inning to preserve the win and collect his 28th save of the season.

Bob Melvin loves the make-up of his team and their ability to pick each other up:

A’s manager Bob Melvin

Video: CSN California

“That’s the strength of our team. If [Yoenis] Cespedes or if [Josh] Reddick’s not swinging well, then there’s a [Derek] Norris, there’s a [Eric] Sogard. We have a pretty balanced line-up, so we feel like we have a chance to score every inning based on versatility we have in the line-up. So it really is a group type of offense for us …we have quite a few guys that can pick it up.”

And pick each other up they did. After Milone allowed a season-low tying four hits and was saved from the loss by Norris’ late home run, the relief from the starter was palpable. And when he was told that that hit was Norris’ first ever pinch-hit, Milone summed up the feeling best when he said, with a smile:

A’s pitcher Tommy Milone

Video: CSN California

“Well, it was a good one.”

The A’s look to win the series on Sunday at 1:05 when Jarrod Parker (6-6, 3.79) takes on Tommy Hanson (4-2, 4.75)

Notes

Both teams wore 1969 throwback uniforms. … Oakland is 8-4 against the Angels this season. … Milone had his third start in which he tossed seven or more innings. … Cespedes is now 2-for-15 (.133) with three walks in five games since the All-Star break. … Josh Donaldson is 8-for-49 (.163) over his last 14 games, which has dropped his average to .299, his lowest average of the season. … It was the first home run allowed by Angels reliever Scott Downs since September 2012.