Angels' 9th-inning rally falls 1 run short
ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Howie Kendrick relished the opportunity to win a game for the Los Angeles Angels. He ended up lamenting another fumbled opportunity for a team that's rapidly running out of chances to catch the Oakland Athletics.
Jerry Blevins got Kendrick to ground into a game-ending double play with two runners on in the ninth inning, and the A's held off the Angels 6-5 Tuesday night for their fifth straight victory.
Torii Hunter and Albert Pujols had run-scoring singles in the ninth for the Angels, who had runners at the corners and nobody out before Blevins relieved A's closer Grant Balfour.
Blevins earned his first save since 2010 — and just the second of his career — in dramatic fashion, preserving the A's 11th straight road victory when Kendrys Morales struck out and Kendrick hit a fastball straight at third baseman Josh Donaldson.
"I put a good swing on the fastball, and it just happened to be right at the third baseman," said Kendrick, who went 0 for 5 and grounded into his 23rd double play. "It happens sometimes. We had an opportunity to win the game, and it just didn't happen. But you want to be that guy up there to get that big hit."
Balfour walked Chris Iannetta and Mike Trout to open the ninth, and said he felt squeezed by home plate umpire Paul Schrieber. Hunter cut Oakland's lead to two runs with a single to center before Pujols drove a single to left, forcing manager Bob Melvin to make a move.
Blevins, who had just one save in his first 204 career appearances, struck out Morales with a nasty changeup before getting Kendrick.
"So far, it's the best moment of my career, and the most exciting," Blevins said. "It even trumps my debut."
His only disappointment? No teammates put a shaving-cream pie in his face during his postgame interview.
"(Balfour) has picked us up all year," Blevins said. "He's been rock-steady, and it's good to give him a little payback."
Trout had three hits for Los Angeles (77-65), which dropped 2½ games behind Baltimore and the Yankees (79-62) for the second wild-card spot with its first back-to-back losses since Aug. 25-26. Tampa Bay (77-64) also is between the Angels and that wild-card slot.