A's hold off Angels in 9th for 5th straight win

Associated Press Modified: September 12, 2012 at 1:31 am •  Published: September 12, 2012

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Jerry Blevins has been near the back of the Oakland bullpen for most of his six seasons with the Athletics, rarely shining and sometimes struggling.

Given an unlikely chance to bail out closer Grant Balfour in a key rivalry game, the left-hander succeeded against the odds — just like his A's have been doing all season long.

Blevins got Howie Kendrick to ground into a game-ending double play with two runners on in the ninth inning, and the A's held off the Los Angeles Angels 6-5 Tuesday night for their fifth straight victory.

"So far, it's the best moment of my career, and the most exciting," Blevins said. "It even trumps my debut."

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 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 Kendrick hit a fastball straight at third baseman Josh Donaldson.

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."

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.

"With none out right there? I don't think it could be much tougher," said Balfour, who watched Blevins' work from the top step of the dugout. "That's about as hard as it gets, and he did it perfectly."

Blevins, who had just one save in his first 204 career appearances, struck out Kendrys Morales with a nasty changeup. Kendrick then grounded to third, and Oakland smartly turned the double play to end it.

"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. "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."

Brandon Moss and Yoenis Cespedes homered and Dan Straily pitched into the seventh inning of his fourth major league start for the A's. Oakland matched the second-longest road winning streak in franchise history.

Coco Crisp hit a ninth-inning RBI triple and scored what turned out to be the winning run on Hunter's error in right field for the A's, who have taken two straight at Angel Stadium with a rookie starter on the mound.

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