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Pinch-hitter Buck nails tie-breaking single, lifts A's

• Turning point: Tied at 1, Angels starter Kelvim Escobar walked Mark Ellis and Marco Scutaro. Donnie Murphy lined out to Chone Figgins at third before Buck came on, and lunged for a pitch, sending it to right where it fell just in front of Reggie Willits.

• Tough luck: Escobar (11-6) lost his third straight start despite allowing just one earned run and two hits over seven innings. He matched his career high with seven walks and struck out two.


• Figure this: Alan Embree pitched a perfect ninth for his 13th save in 15 chances. Embree set the Oakland left-handed record with the save.

• Quotable: "He keeps amazing me every day with his versatility, his desire
and his heart. It's a real plus to a manager to have a guy like that." -- A's manager Bob Geren on Embree

-- ESPN.com news services

Athletics 2, Angels 1

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- Pinch hitter Travis Buck got fooled
looking for a fastball and only got a piece of the ball. That was
all he needed.

Buck hit a two-out, tiebreaking single to lead the Oakland Athletics to a 2-1 victory over the Los Angeles Angels on Saturday.

Buck's shot was one of only two hits off Kelvim Escobar, who
also made a key error.

"They all count," Buck said. "That's the third time I've
faced him and that was probably the best splitter he's thrown. I
just stayed back enough to get it and it fell in."

Joe Blanton (9-8) ended a personal four-game losing streak,
allowing eight hits in seven innings. He gave up one run, did not
strike out a batter and walked two.

Huston Street pitched the eighth and Alan Embree pitched a
perfect ninth for his 13th save in 15 chances.

"He keeps amazing me every day with his versatility, his desire
and his heart," A's manager Bob Geren said of Embree. "It's a
real plus to a manager to have a guy like that."

Embree has retired the last 22 hitters he's faced and has
appeared in five of the last six A's games.

"It's a little bit of luck, locating the ball well and good
plays behind me," said the 13-year veteran. "I'll ride it until
it bucks."

Embree set the Oakland left-handed record with the save.

"It's more sentimental value," Embree said. "At my age I
didn't expect to be in this position. To get this, I'm proud of
it."

Escobar (11-6) lost his third straight start despite allowing
one earned run and two hits over seven innings. He matched his
career high with seven walks and struck out two.

"They worked the count pretty well," Escobar said. "I didn't
get a couple of pitches I wanted but they have a good approach."

With the score tied at 1 in the seventh, Escobar walked Mark Ellis and Marco Scutaro around Mark Kotsay's fly out. Donnie Murphy
lined out to Chone Figgins at third base before Buck came on and
lunged for a pitch, hitting it to right where it fell just in front
of Reggie Willits.

"I just wanted to get the guy home any way I could," Buck
said. "Blanton pitched unbelievably and it was nice for him to
win. He looks like his normal self again."

The Angels grabbed a 1-0 lead when Casey Kotchman doubled to
lead off the second inning, went to third on Maicer Izturis' single
and scored on Jeff Mathis' sacrifice fly to right field.

The A's tied the score in the sixth, helped by an error by
Escobar. Murphy and Shannon Stewart each drew a walk from
the right-hander. With one out, Nick Swisher grounded sharply to
Kotchman at first. Kotchman threw to Orlando Cabrera at second for
the force but Escobar, covering first, couldn't handle Cabrera's
return throw and the ball bounded into the Angels dugout, allowing
Murphy to score.

"I should have made that play," Escobar said. "It was an easy
play for me. I got there in time and I saw the throw."

Escobar walked Jack Cust but then made a nice play on Mike Piazza's sharp comebacker to end the inning.

The Angels managed seven hits in the first four innings against
Blanton but hit into a pair of double plays and were 1-for-4 with
runners in scoring position.

"When guys are struggling at the plate they sometimes get a
little too aggressive at the plate," Angels manager Mike Scioscia
said. "There's no pill that cures a whole team."

Following Izturis' one-out single in the fourth, Blanton retired
the next 10 hitters in succession.

Since giving up a season-high seven earned runs in 4 1/3 innings
in Baltimore on June 29, Escobar has allowed just eight earned runs
in 44 2/3 innings (1.61 ERA).

Game notes
Angels OF Juan Rivera has begun running in 90-foot
intervals as he recovers from a broken left leg. ... Angels RHP
John Lackey, who starts Sunday's series finale, is 10-3 with a 2.93
ERA in 22 games against the A's. ... Kotchman has hit safely in 11
of his last 12 games. ... Angels 3B Chone Figgins has hit safely in
18 of his last 20 games. ... Ellis matched Rafael Bournigal's
Oakland consecutive errorless streak at 70 games. Bournigal
accomplished the feat over three seasons (1996-98). ... The A's won
with two hits or less for the first time since Aug. 5, 1998 in a
3-1 win against the New York Yankees.