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Angels' two-run first enough for sweep of A's

April 28, 2017

ANAHEIM -- Jose Pujols and C.J. Cron drove in one run apiece to back a solid outing from Ricky Nolasco, propelling the Angels to a sweep of the A's with a 2-1 win in Thursday night's series finale at Angel Stadium.The A's put the tying run on first after Yonder

ANAHEIM -- Jose Pujols and C.J. Cron drove in one run apiece to back a solid outing from Ricky Nolasco, propelling the Angels to a sweep of the A's with a 2-1 win in Thursday night's series finale at Angel Stadium.
The A's put the tying run on first after Yonder Alonso drew a one-out walk in the ninth, but Bud Norris coaxed a flyout from Ryon Healy and a groundout from Stephen Vogt to pick up his fourth save of the season, securing the Halos' fourth straight victory. After a 5-2 homestand, the Angels have climbed back to .500 and are 12-12 on the season. The A's have dropped four straight, after winning five in a row, to fall to 10-12.
"It's huge," Nolasco said of the Angels' sweep. "We might have had a week there where we weren't playing very well, but we know we're a better team than what we showed. I think it's starting to come out in winning close ball games and people stepping up."
Nolasco held the A's to one run on three hits while walking two and striking out four over 5 2/3 innings. Nolasco had been slated to start Monday against the Blue Jays, but the Angels pushed him back to give him time to work through a mechanical issue. The 34-year-old veteran retired nine of the first 10 batters he faced and surrendered only an RBI single to Alonso that cut the Halos' lead to 2-1 in the fourth.

"We're a little streaky right now," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "We'll go through some streaks where it seems we do a lot of things right, and other times when we bog down offensively, and it puts some pressure on the pitching staff. We expect to do a little bit more damage."
A's right-hander Kendall Graveman yielded two runs on six hits over six innings in his first start since returning from the disabled list. Graveman gave up two runs in the first, but settled in and blanked the Angels the rest of the way. He also helped himself get out of the jam by turning an unassisted double play in the fifth, the first by an A's pitcher since Blue Moon Odom on July 11, 1971. After Ben Revere and Cliff Pennington led off the inning with back-to-back singles to put runners on the corners, Graveman fielded a comebacker from Juan Graterol. Revere broke for home but was chased back to the bag and tagged by Graveman, who then tagged Pennington trying for third.

"To get a double play there without a run scoring is something I really didn't draw up before the pitch," Graveman said, "but it happened and it was a positive for us."
Angels get on the board early: The Angels jumped out to a 2-0 lead after scoring twice in the first inning. Michael Trout set the table with a two-out double off Graveman and came home on Pujols' long single off the top of the right-center-field wall. Cron followed with a double into the right-center-field gap, plating Pujols from first.
Cron collected two hits Thursday after taking three days off to work on his swing.

"I was just trying to get comfortable," Cron said. "That's pretty much a lot of what hitting is -- feeling comfortable in the box and trusting yourself. I think that got away from me a little bit there. I didn't trust my hands very much. I was kind of just trying to be a little too quick with it, just kind of take a step back and take some extra swings and try to work on some stuff. It paid off today, and hopefully it can continue."
Pujols' RBI was his 1,835th of his career, moving him into a tie with Rafael Palmeiro for 16th place on the all-time MLB list. More >

Parker escapes trouble: The A's cut the deficit to one on Alonso's RBI single in the fourth and threatened again in the sixth after loading the bases with two outs. Jed Lowrie and Khris Davis drew back-to-back walks off Nolasco, and Alonso then reached on Pennington's fielding error. With Nolasco's pitch count at 98, Angels manager Mike Scioscia decided to bring in Richard Parker to face Healy, who struck out swinging on three pitches to end the inning.

"I think Ricky was getting to a point where I think he was getting a little tired," Scioscia said. "He had trouble closing out Davis and Alonso, and obviously we didn't quite get that ground ball. In that situation, I think it was good to give Healy a different look, and Blake came in and did a great job."
Trout extended his hitting streak to 11 games with a two-out double off Graveman in the first. Trout's double was his 51st barreled ball since 2015 off a pitch in the lower third of the strike zone -- the most of any active player in the Statcast™ era.

A's left fielder Davis made a sensational diving play in the second inning, covering 78 feet in 4.4 seconds, per Statcast™, to nail down a ball off the bat of Revere for the first out. Davis had a 26 percent catch probability on the play.

Athletics: The A's head to Houston for a three-game set with the Astros beginning Friday. Right-hander Jharel Cotton (2-2, 4.76 ERA) will be on the mound in the 7:10 p.m. PT opener, looking to replicate his last outing, a win over Seattle in which he held opponents to two runs over six innings.
Angels: The Angels will open a six-game road trip Friday when they face the Rangers at 5:05 p.m. PT at Globe Life Park. Left-hander Tyler Skaggs, who allowed five runs over five innings against the Rangers on April 11, will start the series opener for the Halos.
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Maria Guardado covers the Angels for

Jane Lee has covered the A's for since 2010.