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Angels capitalize on A's errors to creep closer in West

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) -- The Los Angeles Angels lead the AL in
errors and the majors in unearned runs allowed. So once in a while,
it's refreshing for manager Mike Scioscia to watch his offense
capitalize on some glaring mistakes by the opponent for a change --
and do a little daring baserunning in the process.

Maicer Izturis scored the go-ahead run from second on an infield
hit by Orlando Cabrera, and the Angels parlayed two errors into a
pair of unearned runs to beat Oakland 3-2 Tuesday night, pulling
within a half-game of the first-place Athletics in the AL West.

"We squeaked out just about every run we could with our
baserunning," Scioscia said. "Aggressive baserunning should be a
part of any team's game. And we need to take it to another level
and maximize every opportunity when we get guys on base, because
our slugging percentage isn't where we thought it would be.

"We've got some speed at the top of the lineup and it forced
them into mistakes. Two infield singles got us two runs, and that
doesn't happen very often," he said.

Joe Saunders (2-0) made a spot start for injury-plagued Cy Young
Award winner Bartolo Colon, allowing two runs and five hits over
seven innings for the Angels. Saunders struck out three in his
fourth big league start and second this season. The left-hander
beat Cleveland 7-5 on July 18 while filling in for Kelvim Escobar.

"You've got to make the most of your opportunities, and I'm
trying to do that regardless of how long I'm up here," Saunders
said. "I tried to keep the ball down as best I could and let my
defense work for me. That's my mind-set in every start."

Saunders is one of three starters the Angels have called up this
season, including Jered Weaver and Dustin Moseley. The trio is a
combined 10-0, including Weaver's 7-0 record.

"We expect guys to come up here and perform well, or else we're
not going to put them on our depth chart," Scioscia said. "The
young talent we have in Triple-A has done very well up here. We
felt these guys were ready. You need that depth, and it's been
there for us. That's why we're still in the race."

Izturis punched an opposite-field single to left with two outs
in the seventh and went to second on an errant pickoff throw by
Oakland starter Joe Blanton (11-9).

Cabrera followed with a bouncer up the middle that shortstop
Marco Scutaro fielded on the outfield grass, and Izturis never
broke stride. Scutaro's throw home was up the third base line,
allowing Izturis to elude Jason Kendall's attempted sweep tag and
put the Angels ahead 3-2.

"I really didn't have time to set myself. I just had to turn
and throw," Scutaro said. "I had my back to the plate and I just
let it go."

Scot Shields pitched a perfect eighth and Francisco Rodriguez
struck out three in a hitless ninth for his 26th save in 29 tries.
Milton Bradley, who didn't start because of a 102-degree
temperature and a sore throat, fanned as a pinch-hitter to end the
game with a runner on first.

Blanton was charged with three runs -- one earned -- and nine hits
in 6 2-3 innings after winning his previous three starts following
the All-Star break. The right-hander is 0-5 in six career starts
against the Angels, and 23-4 when his teammates score more than one
run while he is on the mound.

Saunders took a two-hit shutout and a 1-0 lead into the sixth
before giving up a leadoff walk to Kendall and a single by Mark
Kotsay. Both runners advanced on a grounder by Bobby Kielty that
Saunders stopped with his left foot before scrambling to throw him
out.

Frank Thomas followed with an RBI single, but Kotsay was thrown
out by left fielder Juan Rivera as he tried to score behind
Kendall.

The Angels took a 2-1 lead in the bottom half with an unearned
run, courtesy of Jay Payton's error in right. Garret Anderson
singled and came all the way home after Payton misplayed Howie
Kendrick's two-out double to the alley.

Payton immediately made up for his fourth error of the season,
driving Saunders' 1-0 changeup to left-center for his eighth homer
and second in two nights. Payton's last seven home runs have either
tied the score or put the Athletics in front. On Monday night, his
two-run shot put Oakland ahead to stay in a 3-1 victory.

Cabrera singled with two outs in the first, stole second and
scored on Vladimir Guerrero's infield single to the left of the
mound. Cabrera never broke stride as first baseman Nick Swisher
took the throw from Blanton and juggled the ball thinking about a
possible play at the plate. Guerrero was credited with his 81st
RBI.

"I would have liked to give up a better hit than that for them
to score him. If it was hit harder, they wouldn't have scored any
runs," Blanton said. "They took chances with their speed and it
worked out for them."

Game notes
Adam Kennedy led off the fifth with a single that extended
his career-best hitting streak to 15 games. ... Oakland SS Bobby
Crosby missed his second straight game with a sore back. Scutaro
was 0-for-3 in his place, and is hitless in 17 at-bats against the
Angels this season.