ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Although Jarrod Parker is still fairly new to playoff races, the Oakland right-hander is pretty sure it's best to be aggressive in September, whether on the mound or in the standings.
The rookie's take-charge approach got the Athletics off to a great start in another big series against the surging Los Angeles Angels.
Parker pitched seven innings of three-hit ball, Brandon Moss and Cliff Pennington homered, and the A's snapped the Angels' six-game winning streak with a 3-1 victory Monday night.
With his second straight impressive start against Los Angeles after a hard-luck loss last week, Parker (10-8) and his bullpen held the Angels' surging lineup to four hits. Parker beat the Angels for the first time in his career by going right at Albert Pujols, Mike Trout and Mark Trumbo, holding Los Angeles to one run for only the second time in its last 22 games.
"They were aggressive as well, so I tried to get some early contact, early outs," Parker said. "It's fun. These are the kind of starts that we need, and everybody is going to feed off this kind of energy."
Coco Crisp hit a leadoff triple and scored for the A's, who opened a key four-game series against their California rivals with a measure of revenge for the Angels' three-game sweep in Oakland last week. Those are the only losses since Aug. 23 for the A's, who have won 13 of 16.
"It was definitely a big game for us," Pennington said. "They came into our place and did what they needed to do, so we needed to come in here that way. This was a good start. Right now, every game is huge. There's one or two differences in every game."
Ryan Cook worked the eighth, and Grant Balfour finished uneventfully for his 17th save.
Dan Haren (10-11) pitched into the seventh inning, allowing just four hits and striking out four. But Oakland turned those hits into three runs, and Haren took his first loss since Aug. 16.
Torii Hunter drove in Trout with a third-inning double for the Angels (77-64), who had won 11 of 12 and 15 of 18 in their desperate late surge to join the playoff race.
"I'm not surprised anymore at what they're doing," Hunter said of the A's. "I mean, we were surprised when they first started doing it in early August, but I'm not surprised any more. They're playing the game, and they've got some really good arms over there."
With its first home loss in seven games, Los Angeles blew a chance to pull within a half-game of Baltimore (78-62) for the second AL wild-card spot. Tampa Bay (77-63) is between the Orioles and the Angels.