The Angels have been more like demons to Oakland Athletics left-hander Scott Kazmir, who seemed to save his worst work for the team that released him in 2011 after he went 11-17 with a 5.31 earned-run average in two seasons in Anaheim.
But Kazmir overcame his case of the yips against the Angels on Sunday, giving up just one earned run and six hits in 7 1/3 innings to lead the A’s to a 3-2 victory in the Oakland Coliseum on Sunday.
Kazmir has been one of the American League’s top pitchers for 2 1/2 seasons, going 28-22 with a 3.61 earned-run average from the start of 2013 through his last start on Tuesday. But in three starts against the Angels in that span, Kazmir was 0-3 with a 22.09 ERA, giving up 18 runs and 18 hits in 7 1/3 innings.
It got so bad that A’s Manager Bob Melvin pushed Kazmir back in the rotation at least twice so Kazmir could avoid having to face the Angels.
But Kazmir had no fear on Sunday, escaping two early jams and then leaning on an infield defense that turned double plays to end the fifth and sixth innings.
The Angels put two on with one out in the first inning when Kole Calhoun and Mike Trout each singled, but Albert Pujols flied out to the warning track in center field, Calhoun taking third, and David Freese struck out on an elevated 92-mph fastball.
The Angels put two on with two out in the third when Calhoun walked and Trout singled. Pujols made solid contact off Kazmir again but lined out to right field to end the inning.
Kazmir walked Johnny Giavotella to lead off the eighth and was pulled after Calhoun flied out. Reliever Tyler Clippard gave up a two-run home run to Albert Pujols, the AL-leading 21st homer of the year and 13th in 23 games for the Angels slugger.
Clippard gave up a single to David Freese but struck out Erick Aybar to end the eighth. Matt Joyce reached on a one-out error in the ninth, but Clippard struck out Efren Navarro and got Giavotella to fly to the wall in left to end the game, closing out his second four-out save in two days.
Angels right-hander Garrett Richards allowed three runs and eight hits in six innings, striking out three and walking two.
The A’s scored once in the third on Sam Fuld’s double and Billy Burns’ RBI single and twice in the sixth on RBI singles by Brett Lawrie and Ike Davis. Stephen Vogt and Ben Zobrist opened the inning with singles.
The game was delayed for 5 minutes and 14 seconds in the second inning for an instant-replay review of a call at third base in which Lawrie, attempting to steal, was initially ruled safe, then out by umpire Greg Gibson when he slid past the bag.
Replays showed clearly that Freese, the Angels third baseman, tagged Lawrie once. He did not make a second attempt to tag Lawrie after the runner came off the bag.
But replay officials in New York, issuing a rare explanation for a decision, determined that Lawrie was tagged on the right shoulder prior to touching third base. Those officials look at the entirety of the play no matter what part is challenge.
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