Saunders, Angels get no relief in 9-4 loss
Left-hander Joe Saunders gave the Angels six brilliant innings Sunday. But he and his bullpen followed that with three bad ones, allowing the Oakland Athletics to rally for a comfortable 9-4 win before a crowd of 40,601 at Angel Stadium.
Saunders (0-2) walked leadoff hitter Rajai Davis on a full-count pitch and gave up a two-out, solo home run to Adam Rosales in the second but he was nearly perfect after that, retiring 13 batters in a row before tiring in the seventh. Ryan Sweeney and Kevin Kouzmanoff opened that inning with back-to-back singles to right before Mark Ellis drove in a run with a ground-rule double just inside the right-field line, chasing Saunders after 96 pitches.
Right-hander Kevin Jepsen came on to strike out the first batter he faced but Rosales followed with a two-run single, putting Oakland in front for the first time on the afternoon. And they stayed there, thanks in part to another bullpen implosion by the Angels, whose relievers gave up five runs over the final two innings.
The A's got three unearned runs off Scot Shields and Brian Stokes in an eventful eighth inning that included two singles, a stolen base, four walks and a two-out throwing error by Brandon Wood on Ellis' chopper to third. Angels relievers threw 44 pitches in the inning, half of them for balls.
Oakland added two more off Bobby Cassevah in the ninth.
Bobby Abreu, Torii Hunter and Juan Rivera provided the offense for the Angels, with Abreu belting his first home run of the year in the first while Hunter, who went two for three, doubled and scored in the first and drove in another run with a sixth-inning sacrifice fly.
All those runs came off Oakland starter Dallas Braden (1-0), who scattered five hits over six innings. Braden also retired 13 in a row between the first and sixth before turning the game over to right-hander Tyson Ross, who allowed just a ninth-inning home run to Rivera.
The Angels, who finished their season-opening homestand 2-5, have Monday off before beginning their first trip of the season beginning Tuesday at Yankee Stadium.
-- Kevin Baxter
Photo: A's center fielder Rajai Davis heads back second base on a pickoff attempt as Angels shortstop Erick Aybar waits for a throw in the eighth inning Sunday. Credit: Jae C. Hong / Associated Press