OAKLAND — The Angels can't come close to matching the Oakland Athletics in volume of talented young starting pitchers, but in Garrett Richards, they have an arm that can cut into the deficit.
Richards, mixing a 94-mph fastball with a sharp overhand curve, threw one of the best games of his two-year career Tuesday night, limiting the A's to one run and seven hits in seven innings, striking out six.
But all Richards had to show for it was a no-decision, as the A's won, 2-1, on Josh Donaldson's two-out, walk-off single to center field off reliever Michael Kohn in the ninth.
Alberto Callaspo, traded from the Angels to Oakland in July, sparked the winning rally with a leadoff single to left. Stephen Vogt flied to deep left, pinch-runner Jemile Weeks tagging and taking second, and pinch-hitter Jed Lowrie was intentionally walked.
Coco Crisp walked to load the bases, and with the Angels employing a five-man infield, Kohn struck out Daric Barton. But Donaldson came through with his third walk-off hit of the season, and the A's reduced their magic number for winning the American League West to six.
After allowing Brandon Moss' RBI double in the first, Richards escaped a two-on, two-out jam in the fourth by striking out Callaspo on a full-count curve and a first-and-third, two-jam in the fifth by striking out Donaldson with a 94-mph fastball.
Moss led off the sixth with a double to right-center, but Richards, who is 5-2 with a 2.90 ERA in 11 starts since replacing Joe Blanton in the rotation in late July, got Yoenis Cespedes to ground to third, Josh Reddick to ground to second and Callaspo to line out softly to shortstop.
A's right-hander Sonny Gray, the 2011 first-round pick who was inserted into the rotation in early August, matched Richards with a six-inning, one-run, five-hit effort, his only blemish Mike Trout's solo home run to center in the first.
Reddick, the A's right fielder, helped preserve the tie with a diving catch of Mark Trumbo's sixth-inning drive to the gap that was reminiscent of former New York Mets right fielder Ron Swoboda's spectacular catch in the 1969 World Series.
The Angels loaded the bases with two outs in the seventh, but Josh Hamilton, after looking at a 3-and-1 Jerry Blevins fastball right down the middle, swung through a breaking ball for his 146th strikeout of the season.
The distance of Trout's homer off the window of a luxury suite high above the center-field wall Monday night, originally estimated at 421 feet, was bumped to 452 feet by ESPN's Home Run Tracker a half an hour after the game.
That still wasn't enough for Manager Mike Scioscia.
"That ball was still in the air at 452 feet," Scioscia said Tuesday. "I don't know what the criteria is for measuring how long a ball is projected to go, but there's no way that ball was anything short of 500 feet."
According to ESPN, it was only the fourth-longest homer Trout has hit this season. His longest was a 462-foot shot in Kansas City on May 23.
"He's a strong kid with terrific bat speed and a great swing," Scioscia said. There isn't much Trout doesn't do well. Entering Tuesday, Trout led the AL in runs (106) and walks (100), he ranked second in average (.331), on-base percentage (.436), triples (nine) and multiple-hit games (55), third in slugging (.564), fourth in doubles (39) and sixth in stolen bases (33).
With his 25th homer Tuesday night, Trout became the first player in AL history with 25 homers, 30 stolen bases and 100 walks in one season.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times