ANAHEIM, Calif. — One troublesome inning interrupted what had been a sensational start to Brett Anderson’s season following Tommy John surgery.
The Athletics’ left-hander did all he could to match zeros with Jered Weaver through six innings before it fell apart.
Torii Hunter triggered a six-run seventh with a leadoff homer against Anderson and capped the rally with an RBI single, leading the Los Angeles Angels to a 6-0 victory Thursday and ending the Athletics’ 12-game road winning streak.
“Obviously, you knew it was going to be a tough day, going up against one of the best pitchers in baseball. But you want to go out there and prove yourself and try to match him pitch for pitch,” Anderson said after his ERA rose from 0.69 to 1.93.
“I was able to do that through six, but I got a little tired in the seventh and fell behind,” he added. “But for the most part, I was happy with the way I battled and got out of some jams.”
Anderson (4-1) was charged with five runs and nine hits over 6 2-3 innings in his fifth start since rejoining the rotation. The left-hander is 2-20 in 33 career starts when getting fewer than three runs of support while he is in the game, as opposed to a 23-4 record when his teammates score three or more before he departs.
Hunter led off the seventh with his 15th homer, driving a 2-0 pitch to right-center for the first home run allowed by Anderson in 27 innings this season.
“Weave pitched a tremendous game, and he was just waiting for us to do something,” Hunter said. “I wasn’t thinking about hitting a home run at all. I just wanted to hit it hard, get on base for the guys behind be and get something started.”
That run basically was all Weaver needed as he held the A’s to just two hits over seven innings and struck out nine to help the Angels avoid a four-game sweep by the A’s and hand them their first road loss since Aug. 23 against Tampa Bay.
“It was a good road trip for us, and you want to get as greedy as you can, but Weaver was really good today. So was our guy,” manager Bob Melvin said. “Hunter’s home run at the time felt like a three-run homer, based on the fact that it seemed like nobody was going to score. Two good pitchers putting up zeros, and they got on the board first and finished it off.”
Erick Aybar doubled one out after Hunter’s homer and scored on a single by Mark Trumbo. A single by Vernon Wells and a two-out walk to Mike Trout loaded the bases for Alberto Callaspo, who greeted Jesse Chavez with a two-run single. Trout scored his major league-leading 115th run on a passed ball by George Kottaras and Hunter added his RBI single.
“It was pretty hot out there. And when you hit that wall, it comes pretty quickly,” said Melvin, a former big league catcher. “Once Brett walked Trout, I felt that was enough, based on a lot of things. But I thought his stuff was as good as it was any of the other times he was out there. He’s continuing to pitch at a very high level and giving us a chance to win every single time.”
Weaver (17-4) made his first start since skipping a turn in the rotation because of biceps tendinitis, which showed up in an MRI after he was struck on his pitching arm by a line drive off the bat of Seattle’s Dustin Ackley on Sept. 2.
Oakland’s only hits were a first-inning single by Josh Reddick and a third-inning double by Jemile Weeks after center fielder Trout stumbled while chasing the ball in right-center.
“Obviously we didn’t want to get swept,” Weaver said. “Things didn’t go the way we wanted them to the first three games, but those guys are playing good baseball and you can’t take them lightly.
“We have a pretty heavy payroll compared to those guys, but they always seem to grind it out and put things together,” Weaver added. “They’ve got a great starting rotation, their bullpen is solid as well, and their guys have been swinging the bats. These guys are always scrappy, so it’s going to be interesting down the stretch.”
Up next for the A’s is a three-game series at home against the surprising Baltimore Orioles, followed by a 10-game road trip against the playoff-contending Tigers, Yankees and Rangers — who led Oakland by 3 1-2 games entering Thursday night’s game against Cleveland.
“It doesn’t get any easier, but I don’t think there are any easy teams in the American League, to tell the truth,” Melvin said. “At times, you’ll catch teams when they’re down, but everybody we play from now until the end of the year we’ll consider basically the same type of challenge and we’ll have to play well to win.”
NOTES: Oakland’s starters have walked three batters or fewer in 42 consecutive games, breaking the A’s record set in 2001 when Rick Peterson was the pitching coach under manager Art Howe. … The A’s came within two wins of the franchise record for consecutive road victories, set in 1931 when the franchise was in Philadelphia. They were shut out for the 16 time this season, the most in the majors. … When LHP Tommy Milone takes the mound on Friday night against the Orioles, he will attempt to break the Oakland record for wins by a rookie that was set by Chris Codiroli in 1983 and equaled by Joe Blanton in 2005. If he walks one batter or fewer, Milone will break the Oakland record of 14 consecutive starts with less than two walks, set by Gil Heredia in 1999. … A’s rookie LF Yoenis Cespedes left the game midway through the fifth inning because of a sprained right wrist. … Pennington had only one RBI in 51 at-bats against the Angels this season, a home run Monday night against Dan Haren. … A’s 1B Brandon Moss has 19 home runs in 67 games. The Oakland single-season record for most homers by a player who appeared in fewer than 100 games that season was set in 1992 by Jose Canseco, who hit 22 in 97 games.