With a nasty stomach virus on the rampage in his clubhouse, injuries slowing or sidelining numerous starters and his usually reliable bullpen crumbling around him, Angel Manager Terry Collins felt he was due for a break Thursday night.
He got that and more in the ninth inning when Garret Anderson shattered his bat--the Anaheim Stadium mound must have been littered with splinters--but got just enough of a Mike Mohler pitch to dump a two-run single into left field, giving the Angels a 4-3 victory over the Oakland Athletics before 17,034.
The Angels’ 19th come-from-behind victory and 11th win in their last at-bat ended a five-game losing streak and prevented the Angels from falling under .500 for the first time since May 15.
“We needed this game badly,” Collins said. “You look up, and in three of the last six games we had the lead in the seventh inning and lost. We just needed a break, and tonight we got one.”
The A’s took a 3-2 lead in the top of the ninth when Damon Mashore’s grounder off reliever Mike James skipped past Angel first baseman Jim Leyritz for an error, allowing Rafael Bournigal to score from second.
But Darin Erstad opened the bottom of the ninth 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 (inflamed left knee, jammed right thumb) in the fifth, drew a walk.
Taylor then hit Leyritz in the back with a pitch to load the bases, and Howe went to the left-handed Mohler to face Anderson. But Anderson, who was batting .333 against left-handers and .299 with runners in scoring position, hit a cut fastball off the end of his bat and into left for the game-winner.
“That really builds character, being the one to win the game at the end,” Anderson said. “I didn’t try to pull it. I just tried to hit it where it was pitched.”
That, Collins said, has been the key to Anderson’s success against left-handers.
“What makes him tough is he stays in well and goes the other way against lefties,” Collins said. “I really felt we were going to at least tie the game there, because I knew he was going to make contact.”
Anderson’s hit allowed the Angels to savor a superb outing by rookie starter Matt Perisho, who gave up two runs on six hits in 6 1/3 innings and struck out a career-high eight, and a solid effort by a resurgent bullpen.
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.
Perisho could have been sent to the minor leagues, but after Thursday, Collins may have no choice but to leave him in the rotation.
Perisho spotted his fastball well and frustrated Oakland with his curve and changeup--four A’s struck out looking. He also held the Bash Brothers--Mark McGwire and Jose Canseco--to one single in six at-bats.
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.
But reliever Rich DeLucia, hospitalized because of flu Tuesday, struck out Mashore, and Mike Holtz, who gave up the game-winning homer to the Dodgers’ Billy Ashley Wednesday night, retired Matt Stairs on a groundout to end the inning.
The Angels 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 McGwire, the A’s first baseman, allowing the Angels to score the tying run in 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.