OAKLAND — Oakland Athletics catcher Jonathan Lucroy’s 32nd birthday was less than memorable. The A’s fell weakly in the series opener to the Los Angeles Angels, 8-4, after two early errors allowed four unearned runs to score.
Lucroy — who has been the godfather to a young pitching staff with his ability to steal strikes at the bottom of the zone — had been more of a defensive force for Oakland in his first season with the A’s, but with the bases loaded and one out in the bottom of the 11th, his bat came through.
Facing an 1-0 count from Angels reliever Eduardo Paredes and a five-man infield, Lucroy pounded a ball off the right center field wall for his first game-winning RBI since Sept. 16, 2016, sending the A’s on the road to San Diego with a 6-5 win.
Center fielder Mark Canha got the A’s on the board in the second, slugging a 390-footer to left to bring home Khris Davis, who worked a leadoff walk after falling behind 0-2.
Chris Young hit his second homer in as many days — a 406-foot blast to left center on an 0-1 Mengden slider — with one out in the third. It was the seventh homer Mengden had allowed in 12 innings, after giving up just six total in his first 12 starts.
After a pair of two-out walks, Mengden got ahead of Pujols 1-2, as the Angels DH waved at a fastball down. On the next pitch, Pujols sent a sinking liner to center. Canha dove forward and appeared to snag it, but as he rolled through the landing, the ball was left behind. The single brought home the game-tying run in Mike Trout.
Los Angeles added a Pujols solo homer in the sixth — he took Mengden out to left on a 92-mph fastball at the knees — and then cashed in another. Andrelton Simmons walked with one out, took second on a Luis Valbuena single and came around to score on a Mengden wild pitch to Martin Maldonado.
Yusmeiro Petit — coming on for his second outing in as many days after not pitching in seven — ended the frame with a groundout by young. Petit gave up a leadoff double to Kinsler in the seventh, and after an intentional walk to Trout, surrendered an inside-out flare single to right to Justin Upton, bringing Kinsler in to score.
Oakland crept back with a run in the seventh on a Jed Lowrie leadoff double and a sacrifice fly by Matt Olson. It was one of just three hits the A’s (XX-XX) managed againstleft-handed starter Andrew Heaney.
The A’s came into Sunday with a .244 average against left-handed starters — better than their .238 against righties — but dropped that average almost four whole points against Heaney, who struck out eight in eight innings.
Against lock-down closer Blake Parker, though, shortstop Marcus Semien hit a leadoff home run in the ninth — his seventh of the year — to cut the lead to one.
Parker — who strikes out 10.4 men and walks just over three per nine innings — then walked Chad Pinder on four pitches, and issued Khris Davis a free pass after getting ahead 1-2.
Jose Alvarez came on to strike out Matt Olson, but then Canha came up against reliever Cam Bedrosian and dunked a flare single to right, plating pinch runner Dustin Fowler to tie things up at 5-5.
Canha would later by spearing a drive to left center by 1-2 drive to left center by Andrelton Simmons, saving an extra-base hit by colliding with the fence at full gallop for the second out of the tenth.
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