Joe Saunders Tosses Complete Game as Angels Smother A’s

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OAKLAND, Calif. — Torii Hunter ran
right by as third-base coach Ron Roenicke signaled him to stop in the
sixth inning. Hunter insists if he'd attempted to hold up, he would
probably be hobbling and hurt right now.

Joe Saunders didn't care how the runs came; he was thrilled with every bit of support he received.

Saunders pitched a complete game,
Erick Aybar had a two-run triple among his four hits and the Los
Angeles Angels beat the Oakland Athletics 7-1 on Wednesday night.

Hunter singled in the Angels' first
run in the third and scored to start a four-run sixth when he ran past
Roenicke's stop sign on Juan Rivera's base hit.

"I've been around, I don't want to do
that," Hunter said, acknowledging he meant no disrespect. "Once I get
going, I can't shut that off. I would blow something out. I just had to
keep going."

Roenicke, typically the bench coach, was filling in for an absent Dino Ebel.

A's left-hander Dallas Braden dropped to 0-4 with a 4.75 ERA in six starts since his perfect game against Tampa Bay on May 9.

Saunders (5-6) took a shutout bid
into the ninth inning before giving up Kevin Kouzmanoff's RBI single.
Saunders, who shut out the A's 4-0 on May 14 in Braden's first start
after that perfecto, was efficient all night this time in an impressive
101-pitch outing that took 2 hours, 26 minutes.

"Again we run into Big Joe," Braden said.

Rivera homered in the eighth as the
first-place Angels rebounded from a 10-1 loss a night earlier for their
seventh win in eight games — and seventh in eight contests at Oakland.

Saunders allowed seven hits, struck
out two and walked one in his fourth career complete game. He faced the
minimum in the second, fourth, fifth, sixth and eighth innings and got
Ryan Sweeney to ground into double plays in the fourth and seventh.

The lefty received plenty of run
support to win back-to-back starts for the second time this season.
Saunders beat the A's for the seventh time in the last nine matchups,
and his 11 victories versus Oakland are the pitcher's most against any
opponent.

"I was getting quick outs," Saunders
said. "When you feel comfortable on the mound and everything feels
right, confidence is key."

Rivera and Robb Quinlan had RBI
singles in the sixth, with Quinlan's hit chasing Braden (4-6). Aybar
then tripled off Brad Ziegler. Hideki Matsui hit a run-scoring single
in the ninth.

Improving to 8-2 during their
current 14-game stretch away from home, the Angels have won eight games
on a road trip for the first time since June 22 to July 1, 1987. That
time, they went 8-1 against Texas, Chicago and Cleveland.

A's center fielder Matt Carson
slammed face-first into the wall trying to chase down Rivera's solo
drive, but he was OK and stayed in the game.

"I jostled my jaw a little bit. I
saw the replay," Carson said. "I thought I had another step, and I
didn't. My next step was to put my foot on the wall and there it was. I
hit it flat, fortunately. I played water polo and got a few elbows but
nothing like that."

The A's chuckled about it afterward. So did Hunter, also a center fielder.

"Man, he's still alive. That's good," Hunter said. "I've been there before, not on a home run."

Oakland had little success against
Saunders a night after producing a season-high 18 hits to snap a
six-game home losing streak to the Angels.

Braden matched a season high by
allowing 11 hits for the second straight start. He yielded five runs,
four earned, in 5 2/3 innings. Braden said he has been experiencing
forearm tightness all week.

"I felt like I couldn't finish all my pitches," he said.

Still, he felt good enough to stay in the game.

"I wanted the ball. I wanted to stay
in," Braden said. "Any time I'm in that situation, I'm confident I can
get outs. I always want to go deep. I guess the numbers weren't in my
favor there. I don't worry about things like that."

After Hunter singled home the
go-ahead run in the third — it was unearned after shortstop Cliff
Pennington
's throwing error started the inning — Oakland left fielder
Jake Fox saved a second score with a strong throw to the plate and a
perfect lunging tag of Quinlan by catcher Kurt Suzuki.

Notes
Kouzmanoff matched his
career-best hitting streak of 10 games. … Angels 3B Maicer Izturis
had the night off. He missed two games with a sore hamstring and knee
before returning to the lineup Tuesday night. … Oakland OF Gabe Gross
was held out of the lineup after tweaking his back Tuesday while
sliding into home. … A's CF Rajai Davis, whose left hamstring
tightened up on a triple Monday, missed his second straight game.
Manager Bob Geren said Davis wouldn't play in Thursday afternoon's
series finale and will be re-evaluated Friday. … Geren's third
baseman son, Bobby, was drafted by the A's in the 36th round out of San
Ramon Valley High. He has committed to Princeton and appears headed to
college. "Pretty good opportunity," the elder Geren said. … Los
Angeles 1B Kendry Morales, who broke his left leg jumping on home plate
in a celebration following his game-ending grand slam vs. Seattle on
May 29, will undergo surgery Thursday.

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