OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — The Los Angeles Angels gave themselves a chance with a mini-roll heading into a pivotal series against the Oakland Athletics. Then three dominant days in the Bay Area put them right back in the AL wild-card mix.
Torii Hunter drove in three runs Wednesday and the Angels completed a three-game sweep by rolling to a 7-1 victory after Athletics pitcher Brandon McCarthy took a liner off his head in the fourth inning.
"We needed it bad," said Dan Haren, who allowed one run and three hits in six innings. "We knew we needed to get all three. Our will to win these last three games has been different from the rest of the year."
McCarthy (8-6) was sent to the hospital after he was struck by Erick Aybar's comebacker. The A's said Wednesday night he was conscious and doing well, but doctors wanted him to stay overnight for further observation and he would not travel with the team to Seattle on Thursday.
Howie Kendrick doubled and hit a two-run single to help the Angels pull within 2½ games of Oakland for one of two AL wild-card spots. Haren (10-10) struck out seven and walked three.
The Angels outscored Oakland 21-5 in the series. Los Angeles (74-63) has won eight of nine to move a season-best 11 games over .500.
"It's awesome," Hunter said. "(Oakland) was one of the hottest teams in baseball. To come in here and take three from the hottest team, it shows a lot about this ballclub."
Seth Smith's single in the third drove home Oakland's only run. Four relievers held the A's scoreless over the final three innings, including three straight strikeouts by Nick Maronde on his 23rd birthday.
Oakland, which had won a season-best nine straight games entering the series, had not been swept at home since dropping three straight to the Yankees from May 25-27.
"They came in, they pitched well, they got some timely hits and won some games," A's second baseman Cliff Pennington said. "Same thing we've been doing for a while."
Just not in this series.
The Angels grabbed control with three runs in the third. Alberto Callaspo hit a leadoff single, moved to second on Bobby Wilson's sacrifice and scored on Hunter's two-out single. After Albert Pujols doubled and Kendrys Morales was walked intentionally, Kendrick tacked on a two-run single.
Haren almost handed the lead to Oakland until he found his groove.
He walked Derek Norris and Pennington to start the bottom of the third. Coco Crisp grounded to first, and Morales' throw sailed wide to pull Aybar off second and allow Pennington to slide in safely.