Series: Game 1 of 3

Anaheim leads 1-0 (as of 10/1)

Game 1: Friday, October 1
Game 2: Saturday, October 2
Game 3: Sunday, October 3

Angels 10

(91-69, 46-33 away)

Athletics 0

(90-70, 51-28 home)

10:05 PM ET, October 1, 2004 Coliseum, Oakland, California 

123456789 R H E
ANA 040004101 10 14 1
OAK 000000000 0 4 0

W: B. Colon (18-12)

L: M. Mulder (18-8)

Colon dominates A's lineup

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- Bartolo Colon cruised along, refusing to show any emotion until the final out. Then, he quickly found catcher Jose Molina and gave him a huge hug.

The Angels considered themselves a playoff team all along, even while they spent the summer playing catch up, and now -- thanks to Colon's big night and plenty of productive bats -- they're one win away.

Colon dominated in seven sharp innings while pitching on three days' rest for the third time in his career, and No. 9 hitter Alfredo Amezaga had a grand slam that led Anaheim over the Oakland Athletics 10-0 on Friday night.

Pinch-hitter Andres Galarraga led off the ninth with his 399th homer, his first this season. The Angels got hits from nine players to win for the sixth time in seven games and take a one-game AL West lead over the A's with two to play.

"It means a lot that we're able to get the first one out of the way, but nothing's been won," Colon said. "I have been through it before. Nobody's celebrating. It's not over yet."

Now, Oakland's playoff hopes are in the hands of Barry Zito on Saturday. The A's have reached the postseason the past four years, losing in the first round each time.

If the A's win Saturday, everything will come down to the series finale Sunday, the last day of the regular season, a matchup of Oakland's Tim Hudson and Anaheim's Jarrod Washburn.

"They got the momentum and we've exhausted all of our options," Oakland's Mark Kotsay said. "We know what we have to do."

Colon (18-12), who beat Kenny Rogers at Texas on Monday, won for the fifth time in six starts, retiring 13 of his first 15 batters. Colon pitched three-hit ball through seven innings, striking out six and walking none. Brendan Donnelly and Ramon Ortiz completed the four-hitter, the Angels' 11th shutout.

"This has been an incredible grind," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "These guys have been sensational keeping their energy where it needs to be, and their focus."

Mark Mulder (17-8) has pitched so poorly the A's briefly considered skipping his turn and using September callup Joe Blanton instead Friday. But they decided to turn to their "Big Three" pitchers of Mulder, Zito and Hudson for the final weekend -- because "they have absolutely been the people who have put this organization on the map," manager Ken Macha said.

But after the Angels' four-run second, Mulder was done and Blanton relieved.

The two innings matched Mulder's career low, set Aug. 26, 2000, against New York, when he allowed six runs and 10 hits.

"Not a very pleasant evening," Macha said. "After we got behind four runs, we felt we weren't in position to give up any more, and that's why we went to the bullpen. ... He sat on the bench for three innings and rooted for the team. We've had tough losses all season but we've rebounded from them before."

On Aug. 24 this year, Mulder became the major leagues' first 17-game winner. Since then, he is 0-4 with a 7.27 ERA in seven starts. The left-hander, the AL starter in the All-Star game, has lost velocity on his fastball and hasn't made it past four innings in his last three starts.

He was surprised to be taken out.

"I don't have that kind of ego where I don't understand," he said. "I didn't struggle out there. It's tough. I love these kind of situations. It's been a struggle. Hopefully Zito and Huddy will get the wins we need."

Blanton, a first-round draft pick in 2002 who went 11-8 this year for Triple-A Sacramento, got into trouble in the sixth, when the Angels batted around.

Amezaga's grand slam highlighted the inning. He sent a 3-1 pitch over the wall in right-center for his second homer of the year and fourth of his career -- the other this year also was a slam, on Aug. 31 at Boston. Amezaga is playing because second baseman Adam Kennedy has torn ligaments in his right knee.

"This is my first one in a big game like that," Amezaga said. "It's very important to get the first game of the three games. It gives us more confidence."

Macha, who's never been ejected in two years as a manager, sprinted out of the dugout to argue twice in the first two innings, then again in the seventh. Eric Chavez was called out at second trying to push a single to a double in the first inning, but Macha didn't think second baseman Amezaga got the tag on in time even though Chavez slid past the bag.

Then in the second, with Anderson on third, David Eckstein grounded to second and Marco Scutaro threw home to try to save a run. Plate umpire Brian Runge immediately called Anderson safe, though Macha thought catcher Adam Melhuse got the tag in time.

Game notes

A's C Damian Miller missed his third straight game with a bruised left thumb, while DH Erubiel Durazo sat out his second straight game with a sore wrist. ... Mulder was done after 32 pitches. ... Eckstein snapped an 0-for-15 stretch with a leadoff double in the fourth. ... In his last seven outings, Mulder allowed 16 doubles, one triple and seven homers. ... The A's drew a rare sellout crowd of 47,081. ... A's reliever Chris Hammond left after two-thirds of an inning with a strained groin.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press