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Angels snap skid, gain ground with victory over A's

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) -- The Los Angeles Angels' struggling
offense didn't provide John Lackey much support. He didn't need
much.

Lackey (11-5) held Oakland to three hits over seven shutout
innings to help the Angels climb within a game of the AL
West-leading Athletics with a 2-1 victory Wednesday night.

Darin Erstad doubled home a run and Maicer Izturis singled in
another off Joe Blanton in the fourth inning. The win snapped the
Angels' five-game losing slide and ended Oakland's seven-game
winning streak.

"I wanted to make it stand up, keep throwing up zeros," Lackey
said of the early two-run lead. "We really needed this to get us
started in the right direction, and to show those guys that we're
going to be hanging around."

He struck out seven, walked four, and pitched out of
bases-loaded jams in the third and sixth innings. The A's finally
scored against reliever Scot Shields in the eighth, and Francisco
Rodriguez pitched the ninth for his 31st save in 36 chances.

"We pitched a great game and offensively, we scratched it
out," Los Angeles manager Mike Scioscia said. "Right now, we're
fighting for every run."

The Angels were coming off a 2-1, 11-inning loss to Oakland a
night earlier.

They bounced back to win the second game of the three-game
series despite another strong pitching performance by the A's.
Blanton (8-10) allowed two runs on six hits, walked one and had a
career-high 10 strikeouts. The complete game was the second by the
A's rookie.

"When you're going against a good pitcher, sometimes it's tough
to get some runs across -- especially when they're locked in like
that in a big game," Blanton said. "Lackey did a great job. He
spotted the ball well, changed speeds fairly well and had a pretty
good breaking ball."

Two of the hits off Lackey were comebackers to the mound -- Marco
Scutaro's grounder in the third bounced off Lackey's ankle, and
Scott Hatteberg's sharp grounder in sixth deflected off the
pitcher's glove. Jason Kendall's single to right leading off the
game was the only other hit Lackey allowed.

Hatteberg's RBI single in the eighth closed the gap to 2-1, but
Shields, who gave up three singles and hit Bobby Kielty with a
pitch in the inning, finally ended it by retiring Nick Swisher on a
fly to deep left field with the bases loaded.

The Angels' Vladimir Guerrero led off the fourth with a single
and scored when Erstad doubled to right-center field. Bengie Molina
flied out to right, with Erstad advancing to third, then Blanton
struck out Casey Kotchman.

Izturis followed with a bloop single to center field to score
Erstad, then tried to stretch it into a double because second base
was left unprotected as shortstop Scutaro and second baseman Mark
Ellis raced into the outfield to try to catch the shallow fly. But
center fielder Jay Payton raced in to field the ball on one hop and
kept sprinting to second base, sliding in feet-first and tagging
Izturis out.

"I didn't have anybody to throw to, so I had to take off for
second. I was just trying to cut him off and slide in front of the
bag," Payton said. "That way, if I slide and beat him there, then
I cut him off from the bag.

"I didn't want to go headfirst because I'm thinking, if he goes
feet-first, then I get spiked. I guess he wasn't really thinking
about that too much because he went in headfirst. I thought I might
have broken his arm or something at first, but he was OK."

Game notes
Oakland SS Bobby Crosby went on the DL with a broken left
ankle, his second time on the DL this year. Trainer Larry Davis
thought he might be able to return before the season ends. INF
Keith Ginter was recalled from Triple-A Sacramento to take Crosby's
roster spot. ... The Angels will activate C Josh Paul from the DL,
transfer 3B Dallas McPherson to the 60-day DL, and bring up OF
Curtis Pride and RHP Greg Jones from Triple-A Salt Lake on
Thursday. ... A's CF Mark Kotsay had an epidural injection and is
expected to be out another three or four days with back spasms. ...
Oakland RHP Rich Harden, who missed his last start because of a
strained muscle in his right side, had an MRI on Wednesday and
won't be able to throw for a couple of days.