(Sports Network) – The Oakland Athletics try to jump the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in the American League West standings and complete a two-game sweep of their division foes when they close the brief set tonight at the Coliseum. Oakland knocked the Halos out of first place in Monday’s opener, as Kurt Suzuki slid in safely at home in front of Howie Kendrick’s throw from the infield grass in the 10th inning, lifting the A’s to a 5-4 win.
The A’s tied the game on Daric Barton’s RBI single in the ninth and came away with their second win in the last three games in their next at-bat. After striking out Hideki Matsui on a payoff pitch to start the 10th, Fernando Rodney (2-2) walked Suzuki and Conor Jackson on nine total pitches. On a 2-1 count to Mark Ellis, Rodney threw a wild pitch to move both runners up a base.
Kendrick was shifted from left field to second base as an extra infielder, and Ellis hit a chopper right to him. Running on contact, Suzuki was able to score the deciding run on Kendrick’s high and wide throw.
“What a great finish to a tough game,” A’s manager Bob Geren said. “That was a big win for the team.”
A’s starter Brett Anderson was charged with three runs on five hits and four walks over 6 2/3 innings, while his counterpart, Joel Pineiro, was strong over seven innings, allowing three runs — only one earned — on six hits. With Texas’ win over the Chicago White Sox, the Angels fell a half-game back of the Rangers for the division lead. The A’s are a game back of Texas and now just a half game behind the Halos.
Hoping to get them even closer in the standings, the A’s will rely on left- hander Gio Gonzalez, who will try to bounce back from an ugly outing in his last trip to the hill. Gonzalez allowed seven runs in 2 2/3 innings to the Ranges on Wednesday, but fortunately the start never counted since the game was called because of rain shortly after he was lifted.
“Obviously, it was a blessing in disguise that would happen. Now you just move forward,” Gonzalez said. “It happens to any pitcher: You give up a couple of runs, but it’s how they bounce back. This is a situation where I have to bounce back, especially against the Angels. It’s not an easy task against a division rival. They’re not going to be easy, but as long as I keep my team in the game, that’s all that matters.”
Aside from that outing in Arlington Gonzalez has been terrific posting a 4-2 mark to go along with a 2.68 ERA. However, one of his few poor showings came against the Angels back on April 25 when he allowed five runs (four earned) and eight hits in five innings. He is 3-2 lifetime against Anaheim with a 3.90 ERA in six starts.
The Angels will counter with rookie Tyler Chatwood, who is 2-1 with a 3.67 ERA. Chatwood has not received a decision in either of his last two starts, but has given up just a run in each outing, spanning 14 1/3 innings. Chatwood’s last win came against the A’s back on April 26 when he gave up three runs and five hits in 5 1/3 innings in his only other appearance against the club.
The Angels took two of three from the Athletics at home in late April, giving them a victory in six of the past seven meetings. They did lose six of 10 in Oakland a season ago.