ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — John Jaso came up big again as a pinch-hitter with a home run against Los Angeles Angels closer Ernesto Frieri, a year and five days after doing the same thing to Kevin Jepsen at Angel Stadium — a place where Jaso just loves to hit.
Jaso's go-ahead, two-run shot in the ninth inning sent the Oakland Athletics to a 3-2 victory Monday night. Yoenis Cespedes also went deep for the A's, offsetting Albert Pujols' 496th home run.
Frieri (0-1) was trying to preserve a 2-1 lead for starter Hector Santiago when Josh Donaldson led off the ninth with a single and Cespedes flied out. Jaso batted for Derek Norris and drove a 1-2 pitch deep into the right-field seats for his first homer of the season and the first by an A's pinch-hitter.
"Donaldson hit that ball hard to start off the inning, and it kind of started there," Jaso said. "I think Cespy just missed a pitch, too, so we definitely had some good swings going and some good momentum against Frieri.
"He showed me one changeup earlier in the at-bat and got a strike, so I thought he was going to go back with an off-speed pitch — especially after I fouled off a couple of his fastballs," Jaso added. "But he came back with another heater and left it out over the plate. My timing was a little bit better on that particular pitch, and it looked really good to hit."
Jaso has six homers and 21 RBIs at Angel Stadium along with a .424 average, the highest by any player with at least 75 plate appearances at the "Big A."
"He got a really good pitch to hit and the ball went out," Frieri said. "In that situation, he's looking for something middle-in to drive in the air — especially when they have a man on base. He hit a mistake pitch. Don't get me wrong, he made good contact, but I was trying to go down and away."
It appeared Frieri needed more consoling from Santiago than vice versa.
"I closed in 2012, so I know how it is, man. You've got to have a short memory and forget about it," Santiago said. "He's going to close more games than he blows. He said 'Sorry' to me, but I told him: 'No, don't worry about it, man. We're all out here battling.' I could have given up a two-run homer and given up the lead in the seventh."
Santiago allowed a run and five hits while striking out three in his fourth start for the Angels after spending his three previous big league seasons with the Chicago White Sox. A two-out homer by Cespedes in the fourth was Oakland's only run against the left-hander.