Angels halt ninth-inning rally to beat the Athletics, 6-5

Angels nearly blow a four-run lead in the ninth inning before beating Oakland, 6-5

The Angels turned what appeared to be a comfortable win into a nail-biter Thursday, with closer Huston Street, thanks to an assist from center fielder Mike Trout, escaping a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the bottom of the ninth to preserve a 6-5 victory over the Oakland Athletics.

The Angels, with a 6-2 lead, should have opened the ninth with an out, but first baseman C.J. Cron misplayed Billy Butler’s popup in foul territory, and the ball dropped for an error.

Butler walked, Josh Reddick singled, and Angels Manager Mike Scioscia pulled reliever Vinnie Pestano in favor of Street, who had converted all eight of his save opportunities this season.

Brett Lawrie and Mark Canha each hit RBI singles to pull the A’s to within 6-4. Both runners advanced on a wild pitch, and pinch-hitter Stephen Vogt walked on four pitches to load the bases.

Pinch-hitter Max Muncy popped out to shortstop for the first out, but Sam Fuld floated an RBI single to center field that dropped just in front of Trout to score Lawrie and make it 6-5, but Canha could advance only from second to third because he had to wait to see if the ball would drop.

With the bases still loaded, Marcus Semien popped out to second base, with Johnny Giavotella making a running catch in shallow right field, spinning and throwing home to hold the runners.

Ike Davis then drove a ball to deep center, where Trout made a leaping, over-the-shoulder catch to end the game.

An Albert Pujols-less Angels offense broke out for 12 hits, Kole Calhoun drove in three runs, and Garrett Richards threw six strong innings.

Richards, making his third start of the season after an eight-month recovery from left-knee surgery, gave up one run and four hits in six innings, striking out five and walking three to improve to 2-1 and lower his earned-run average to 3.00.

With his 101st pitch of the game, Richards struck out designated hitter Butler with a 96-mph fastball to end the sixth inning. He also struck out Eric Sogard with a second-inning curve that started at Sogard’s shoulders and broke down to his ankles.

Pujols was sidelined by left hamstring tightness, an injury he suffered Wednesday night, but that hardly slowed the Angels, who scored once in the third, three times in the fifth and once in the sixth and seventh innings.

Drew Butera singled to open the third, he took second on Taylor Featherston’s sacrifice bunt, third on Erick Aybar’s groundout and scored on Giavotella’s single to center.

Featherston, with his first big league hit, and Aybar sparked the fifth-inning rally with singles. Giavotella advanced the runners with a bunt, and after Trout was walked intentionally to load the bases, Calhoun lined a two-run single to right for a 3-0 lead. Trout scored on Freese’s fielder’s-choice grounder to make it 4-0.

Featherston’s two-out walk and Aybar’s RBI double made it 5-0 in the sixth, and Trout doubled and scored on Calhoun’s single in the seventh to make it 6-0. Canha’s two-run home run off reliever Mike Morin pulled Oakland to within 6-2 in the bottom of the seventh.

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