<
>

Lackey impressive; Angels off to best start since 1991

• Series lookahead: The Angels conclude their first homestand of the season Sunday, ending a four-game series with the A's. Angels right-hander Kelvim Escobar squares off against A's right-hander Joe Blanton.

• Quotable: "We're not looking at standings. We're not adding up any wins yet," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "We're just trying to play good baseball."

-- ESPN.com news services

Angels 2, Athletics 1

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) -- By his own admission, John Lackey usually
has a tough time at the beginning of the season.

That's not the case this year, although at least two members of
the Oakland Athletics weren't particularly impressed with his
latest outing.

Lackey scattered seven hits in seven innings, and the Los
Angeles Angels took advantage of some shoddy Oakland baserunning to
beat the Athletics 2-1 Saturday night for their fifth win in six
games.

The Angels are off to their best start since 1991, when they
also won five of their first six.

"We're not looking at standings. We're not adding up any wins
yet," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "We're just trying to
play good baseball."

Vladimir Guerrero drove in his major league-leading 10th run off
Dan Haren (0-2) in the third inning. Guerrero went 2-for-3 and is
hitting .524 (11-for-21) this season.

Lackey (2-0) gave up one run, struck out six and walked none.
The 28-year-old right-hander has a 10-2 career record against the
A's.

"It's kind of different for me. I usually take one or two to
get my feet wet," Lackey said. "We've got a long way to go.

"You've got to throw strikes against these guys. They try to
work you."

Oakland's Milton Bradley, who went hitless in four at-bats, made
no attempt to hide his upset feelings afterward.

"I've seen him a lot better," Bradley said of Lackey. "I did
nothing to help the team. It's just embarrassing, frustrating. I
can't really put a finger on what happened. There's no way Dan
should have lost this game."

With the Angels leading 2-1, the A's blew a big opportunity in
the seventh. Eric Chavez led off with a double, and after Nick
Swisher was hit by a pitch, Mark Ellis failed to make contact while
trying to bunt a 2-0 pitch that appeared to be out of the strike
zone, and Chavez was caught off second base.

Travis Buck hit a two-out single to put runners at first and
third before Lackey struck out Marco Scutaro to end the inning.

"It was a bunt play. When you're running at second, it's
tough," Ellis said. "You want to get a good jump.

"I'm sure it was a ball. I like to bunt pitches up there.
Obviously, not that one. It's just one of those plays that didn't
go our way. Usually I get the ball down -- I'm a pretty good
bunter."

The A's also missed a scoring chance in the fifth when Ellis led
off with a single, stole second while Buck was striking out and
took third on a throwing error by catcher Mike Napoli. But Scutaro
grounded to shortstop with the infield in, and Orlando Cabrera
easily threw out Ellis at the plate.

Ellis agreed with Bradley as far as Lackey was concerned.

"I would say he would probably say he wasn't as sharp as he
usually is," Ellis said. "He was still very good."

Hector Carrasco pitched a perfect eighth, and Scot Shields
worked the ninth for his first save. Angels closer Francisco
Rodriguez had pitched in four of his team's previous five games and
was fighting a cold.

Jason Kendall's two-out RBI single in the third gave the A's a
1-0 lead. Guerrero hit a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the inning,
giving him at least one RBI in each of the Angels' six games. He
also has at least one hit in every game.

The Angels scored an unearned run in the sixth to break the tie.
Garret Anderson doubled, took third on Casey Kotchman's infield hit
and scored on shortstop Scutaro's throwing error. Kotchman was
thrown out trying to take second on the play.

Haren allowed six hits and two runs, one earned, in seven
innings. Oakland starters have allowed eight earned runs in 37
innings this season.

Game notes:
The game was played before a sellout crowd of 44,007. The
Angels have averaged just over 40,000 through six home games. ...
A's SS Bobby Crosby, who left Friday night's game after five
innings because of back spasms, said he felt much better and hopes
to be in the lineup Sunday. "It's not related to my other back
injury," he said. "I've had this before. I'm not overly concerned
about it." He pinch ran in the ninth inning. ... Angels INF/DH
Shea Hillenbrand missed his fourth straight game because of
tightness in his right groin. Scioscia said it's possible
Hillenbrand will start Sunday. "I think he's very close,"
Scioscia said. ... Bradley returned to the lineup after being
scratched Friday night because of soreness in his right side. ...
Angels general manager Bill Stoneman celebrated his 63rd birthday
Saturday.