OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- Reggie Willits' aggressive baserunning is a result of coaches past and present instilling in him that instinct. Sometimes it's pure luck.
Willits scored from second on Erick Aybar's infield single with two outs in the ninth and the Los Angeles Angels rallied to beat the Oakland Athletics 4-3 on Sunday, spoiling another solid outing by All-Star Justin Duchscherer.Willits, who entered the game as a pinch runner, never stopped running from second base on the play. Aybar's high chopper eluded closer Huston Street's glove, and shortstop Donnie Murphy's throw to first baseman Daric Barton was late. Willits just beat the throw home, which dribbled away from Kurt Suzuki."In that situation, all the way up through the minor leagues we're trained to just go as hard as we can possibly can go," Willits said. "My thinking with two outs is I'm going on contact. It wasn't hit hard, and usually you're looking for a throw that pulls the first baseman off the bag. It doesn't happen too often."Said Barton: "I turned to throw but Kurt was looking up the line. If I would have thrown it that first time we would have had him. I saw him round third and I know he's fast. I've seen him take third on bunts."Casey Kotchman hit a home run and Howie Kendrick drove in two runs to help the Angels record their 19th comeback win and improve to a major-league best 36-19 in games decided by two runs or less."Any team that has speed is going to try and use it," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "When you're on second base and there's a ball hit that looks like there's a possibility the runner's going to beat it, you're going to run through the bag hard to see if anything develops. Fortunately for us, he double-clutched and Reggie was able to get in there."Francisco Rodriguez got out of a bases-loaded jam in the ninth for his major-league leading 38th save in 41 chances.Torii Hunter and Juan Rivera singled to open the ninth against Street (2-3), who blew his fourth save. Kendrick hit a sacrifice fly to tie the game.Jose Arredondo (3-0) pitched a scoreless eighth for the win.Jack Cust had two hits, including his 18th home run, a solo shot off Darren Oliver in the sixth, and ended his strikeout streak at 19 games. He also avoided tying the AL record for most strikeouts before the All-Star break, 115 by Bo Jackson with the Kansas City Royals in 1987.Duchscherer's lost one streak and continued another, and the A's fell six games behind the AL West-leading Angels.Duchscherer, selected to his second All-Star Game, had a career-best 18-inning scoreless streak end when Kendrick beat the throw to first on a two-out grounder in the fourth, allowing Vladimir Guerrero to score.The Oakland right-hander extended his streak of allowing three earned runs or fewer to 19 games, matching the Oakland record, last accomplished by Ken Holtzman in 1974-75. He allowed two runs and five hits over 7 2/3 innings. He walked two and struck out three.Kotchman homered to hasten the end of Duchscherer's outing in the eighth. Brad Ziegler got the final out of the eighth.Dustin Moseley gave the Angels a solid outing, giving up two runs, both in the first inning, and four hits over 5 1/3 innings. He walked one and struck out four.Moseley, working on three days rest, was recalled from Triple-A Salt Lake to take Joe Saunders' spot in the rotation. Saunders was with his wife Shanel on Saturday night in the L.A. area as she delivered the couple's first child, Matea."I just treat it as any other start," Moseley said. "I've had a lot of success last year coming out of the pen and starting. I try to go back to my experiences where I've done well. That's where I was, three days rest, flying in late last night, no real time to prepare, just do my best and see what happens."Moseley gave up hits to four of the first five batters he faced, with Emil Brown and Carlos Gonzalez each singling home a run. He retired 14 of the last 15 batters he faced.
Duchscherer walked two batters or fewer for the 15th time in 16 starts this season. ... A's manager Bob Geren announced the A's will open the second half with a rotation of RHP Joe Blanton, LHP Greg Smith, Duchscherer, RHP Sean Gallagher and LHP Dana Eveland. ... Scioscia said RHP John Lackey would start the second half of the season and the rest of the rotation would depend on how Saunders and RHP Ervin Santana are used in the All-Star Game. ... A's 2B Mark Ellis enters the break with a 46-game errorless streak and leads AL second basemen with a .995 fielding percentage. ... Angels INF Sean Rodriguez was optioned to Triple-A Salt Lake to make room for Moseley. ... The Angels own the best road record in baseball (30-19) despite losing 7 of their last 11 away from Anaheim.