Garret Anderson’s bat was shattered--the pitching mound must have been littered with splinters--but he got just enough of a Mike Mohler pitch to drop a two-run single into left field, lifting the Angels to a 4-3 victory over the Oakland Athletics on Thursday night before 17,034 in Anaheim Stadium.
The A’s had taken a 3-2 lead in the top of the ninth when Damon Mashore’s grounder skipped past Angel first baseman Jim Leyritz for an error, allowing Rafael Bournigal to score from second.
But the Angels, on the verge of a season-high six-game losing streak and dropping under .500 for the first time since May 15, staged a rally in the bottom of the ninth for their 19th come-from-behind win and 11th victory in their last at-bat this season.
Darin Erstad opened the inning with a single off Buddy Groom, and Oakland Manager Art Howe went to closer Bill Taylor. Dave Hollins struck out, but Orlando Palmeiro, who replaced the injured Jim Edmonds in the fifth, drew a walk.
Taylor then hit Leyritz with a pitch to load the bases, and Howe went to Mohler, the left-hander, to face the left-handed hitting Anderson, who came through with his clutch hit.
That allowed the Angels to savor a superb outing by rookie Matt Perisho, who gave up only two runs on six hits in 6 1/3 innings and struck out eight, a career high, and a solid effort by a resurgent Angel bullpen, which had struggled during the losing streak.
Perisho got a reprieve early Thursday night when the Angels put reserve Eddie Murray on the disabled list to make room for triple-A pitcher Kevin Gross, who will start tonight against the A’s.
There was a chance Perisho might have been sent back to the minor leagues, but after his performance Thursday night, Manager Terry Collins may have no choice but to leave him in the rotation.
Perisho spotted his fastball well, but it was his curve and changeup that baffled Oakland the most--four A’s struck out looking.
The A’s scored when Geronimo Berroa laced a two-run single to left in the third inning, but they didn’t threaten again until the seventh, when Bournigal walked and was sacrificed to second.
Collins, who second-guessed himself for letting Perisho start the seventh inning with a 4-3 lead over San Diego on June 12--the Padres scored the tying run--went immediately to his bullpen for Rich DeLucia, who spent Tuesday morning in a hospital because of severe flu-like symptoms.
But DeLucia looked strong, striking out Mashore, and left-hander Mike Holtz, who gave up the game winning homer to the Dodgers’ Billy Ashley on Wednesday night, came on to retire pinch-hitter Matt Stairs on a groundout to end the inning.
The Angels had forged a 2-2 tie in the sixth when the A’s pulled another Eric Dickerson impersonation, fumbling the ball at the wrong time.
On May 28, right fielder Berroa dropped Leyritz’s fly ball, opening the door to a five-run ninth inning and a 14-10 Angel victory.
Thursday night it was pitcher Steve Karsay who dropped a routine throw from Mark McGwire, the A’s first baseman, allowing the Angels to score the tying run in the bottom of the sixth.
With the Angels trailing, 2-1, Chad Kreuter drew a two-out walk, Luis Alicea was hit by a pitch and Gary DiSarcina followed with a nubber to McGwire’s left.
McGwire tossed to Karsay, who was covering first, but the pitcher took his eye of the ball, which bounced off his glove and into foul territory, giving Kreuter plenty of time to score. Tony Phillips then walked to load the bases, but Darin Erstad struck out on a nasty Karsay curve to end the inning.
The Angels also loaded the bases with one out in the first off Karsay, but Leyritz grounded into an inning-ending double play.
The Angels broke through in the third when Phillips walked, took second on Erstad’s long fly ball to left and scored on Jim Edmonds’ two- out single to left.
Edmonds, however, had to leave the game in the top of the fifth because of an inflamed left knee--he’s been playing with torn cartilage--and a jammed right thumb.