Even with a talent-filled bullpen facing a depleted lineup, the Oakland Athletics once again saw themselves on the receiving end of a go-ahead home run in a loss to the Los Angeles Angels, a recipe that’s added up many times over the past several years at Angel Stadium.
This time, it was Justin Upton. His two-run shot off of Lou Trivino in the sixth was second time he’s hit a go-ahead homer in the late innings against the A’s this year.
After taking a 3-0 lead just four batters into the game on a pair of homers, the Oakland bats went quiet. Matt Chapman’s opposite-field shot off Felix Pena got the visitors on the board, and after Jed Lowrie singled, Khris Davis unleashed a two-run shot to center.
They’d do little else against Pena, who entered the night with a 4.97 ERA. The 28-year-old would allow just two more hits and pitch into the sixth inning. Jim Johnson would get the final out of that inning and was credited with the win after Upton’s homer.
Brett Anderson lasted five innings for Oakland (68-48), and four of those frames were smooth. He did give up three hits in the third, including a two-run homer to the resurgent Kole Calhoun to put the Angels (59-58) on the board.
Though Anderson allowed just four hits, the shaky third inning kept him from earning a third trip through the order, as he would face a total of 19 batters. It’s been a constant theme in Oakland rotation, and one that’s led to an overworked bullpen, highlighted by Trivino’s second blown save of the week.
Just as Wednesday’s blown save featured a bloop hit, this one included soft contact as well, in the form of David Fletcher’s infield hit to start the inning, despite a heroic effort by Chapman. Upton’s contact was much better — a no-doubter into the bullpen in left.
After struggling with Pena and Johnson, the A’s would do little more in the final three innings. Cam Bedrosian got Jonathan Lucroy to ground into a double play to end the seventh and hard-throwing rookie Justin Anderson struck out all four batters he faced. Lefty Jose Alvarez got Matt Olson to ground out into the shift on a tough play by Fletcher, and Blake Parker got the one-out save with Stephen Piscotty’s game-ending groundout, marking the fifth time in the past six games the A’s have failed to score more than three runs.
Fernando Rodney made his A’s debut, striking out Eric Young Jr. to cap off a perfect seventh inning, while another recent acquisition, Shawn Kelley, retired the side in order in the eighth.