A's take 2 of 3 from Angels to win 1st series in last 13 attempts

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- The downtrodden Oakland Athletics finally won a series for the first time in over a month, and they did it against the team that's running away with the AL West.

Emil Brown homered and drove in three runs, Rajai Davis had a career-high four hits and the Athletics beat the Los Angeles Angels 6-5 Wednesday night.

"If you're not winning any series, you're losing a good amount of games. So the goal going into every series is to try to win it," shortstop Bobby Crosby said. "And to come in here and take a series from one of the best teams in baseball is a good confidence booster for us."

The A's took two of three and snapped a drought of 12 winless series going back to July 7-10, when they captured three of four from Seattle.

The A's still trail Los Angeles by 19 1/2 games, however.

"Anytime you're playing the Angels, it's a rivalry and it's a lot of fun. But it's not fun when it doesn't mean as much as it could," Oakland left fielder Jack Cust said. "We started off really well and just kind of hit the wall for the second year in a row. It's definitely disappointing. We just want to finish up strong and have something positive to take into next year."

The Angels haven't won any of their last five series since sweeping the Yankees at home. They have a 15-game lead on the Texas Rangers, who come to Anaheim on Thursday night to begin a four-game set.

Huston Street (4-5) retired all five batters he faced after coming on in the sixth and striking out Mike Napoli with two men on.

Rookie Brad Ziegler, who replaced Street as the Athletics' closer, got five outs for his sixth save. The sidearming right-hander ended it by getting Juan Rivera to ground into a double play with runners at first and second after walking Robb Quinlan.

"I just try to get as many ground balls as I can," Ziegler said. "I felt like it wouldn't hurt by putting Quinlan on first because it set up a double play. I mean, obviously I didn't want to walk him. I was trying to go after him and just left pitches out of the zone, but it worked out."

Staked to a 6-0 lead through two innings in his in his fifth big league start, Oakland left-hander Gio Gonzalez failed to retire a batter in the fourth as the Angels made a game of it with a four-run rally.

Gonzalez, who escaped a one-out bases-loaded jam in the second after walking three batters, hit Quinlan with a pitch to load them again in the fourth with none out. Erick Aybar chased Gonzalez with a two-run single, Quinlan scored on a fielder's choice grounder by Gary Matthews Jr., and Mark Teixeira's RBI single against Alan Embree made it 6-4.

Angels second baseman Howie Kendrick came out after feeling tightness in his left hamstring advancing to second on Teixeira's hit. Sean Rodriguez replaced him and struck out with two runners in scoring position in the fifth, after Aybar's RBI single trimmed Oakland's lead to 6-5.

"Being down 6-0 definitely is tough," said manager Mike Scioscia, whose team hasn't won a game in which they've trailed by more than four runs. "We battled to get back in that ballgame, but Oakland's got some guys in the back of their pen that are throwing the ball well and they got it done. We just had a little bit too far to come back from."

All-Star Joe Saunders (14-7) had his second rough outing in a row, throwing 49 pitches over 1 1/3 innings and allowing six runs on eight hits.

Davis opened the game by beating out a single to Kendrick after his one-hopper to the right side of the mound deflected off Saunders' bare hand. Scioscia and trainer Ned Bergert went out to check on him and decided to let Saunders stay in after a couple of warmup pitches.

"It was just a reaction by Joe," Scioscia said. "Fortunately, it just kind of glanced off his finger and didn't catch it flush. It could have been ugly."

Scioscia and Saunders both insisted that had nothing to do with what transpired from there. Davis stole second and scored on Brown's single before the A's blew it open with a five-run second inning. Eric Patterson singled home a run, Crosby added a two-run double and Brown chased Saunders with a two-run homer to left-center, his 13th.

Saunders, who gave up six runs over 5 1/3 innings in last Friday's 9-0 loss to Minnesota, is 5-3 with a 4.72 ERA in nine starts this season when pitching on four days rest -- and 7-4 with a 3.49 ERA in 12 starts on five days' rest.

"What affected me was not being able to throw strikes and get ahead of guys," said Saunders, who beat the A's 2-0 with eight innings of four-hit ball on April 29 in Anaheim. "I've just been struggling lately."

Game notes
Scioscia was ejected by plate umpire Paul Schreiber while making a pitching change in the seventh inning after Darren Oliver issued a leadoff walk to Frank Thomas. ... Angels 3B and leadoff hitter Chone Figgins did not play because of irritation in his left big toe.