- Associated Press - Saturday, June 13, 2015

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) - According to Oakland Athletics manager Bob Melvin, the starting pitching isn’t to blame for the team’s 25-38 record. Neither is the offense. The relief pitching? That’s another story.

Evan Scribner gave up the tying and go-ahead runs in the eighth inning on homers by Mike Trout and Kobe Calhoun, trumping Josh Reddick’s go-ahead two-run shot in the seventh against Angels reliever Fernando Salas, and the A’s dropped a 5-4 decision Friday night in the opener of a three-game series with their AL West rivals.

“We have to execute better pitches than that,” Melvin said. “The starters haven’t been the issue. The starters have been the best in the American League this year. It doesn’t matter if it’s frustrating or not. We just have to find a way to get better than we have. The numbers indicate where we are with that, and it’s not good. That’s the reason we’re losing games like that.”

Reddick’s 10th homer put starter Jesse Chavez in line for a victory, after Brett Lawrie and Josh Phegley supported the right-hander with back-to-back homers in the fourth against Hector Santiago.

But then the lead changed hands for the fourth time in the game, as Scribner (1-1) served up Trout’s leadoff homer and Calhoun followed suit after Albert Pujols flied out to the warning track in left field.

“Today it was all me. Two pitches up in the zone. That’s all it was,” Scribner said in a hushed voice. “The pitch I wanted to throw Trout was a slider in the dirt, which I got him on a couple of times earlier in the year. I just didn’t get it where I was trying to. The pitch to Calhoun was a fastball away that I just left over the plate. I can’t make mistakes to those guys.”

Jose Alvarez (1-1) pitched a perfect eighth for the victory and former A’s closer Huston Street got three outs for his 18th save in 20 attempts, retiring Reddick on a fly ball to center with his 26th pitch of the ninth and runners at first and second.

Angels manager Mike Scioscia was ejected for the first time this season during the sixth inning after Calhoun’s two-run single gave the Angels a 3-2 lead.

Johnny Giavotella followed Calhoun’s hit with a grounder to third, but was called out by umpire Chris Conroy. Television replays confirmed that the runner was safe, but Scioscia was out of challenges by then after burning an earlier one in which Oakland’s Mark Canha’s steal of second base in the third inning was upheld.

Scioscia charged out of the dugout after Giavotella’s ruling and had a lengthy one-way argument with Conroy before he was ejected.

“That was the first time I’ve seen that side of him, so it was good to see the fire in him - and it was contagious with us,” Giavotella said. “Unfortunately, we didn’t have any challenges left, so we were forced to go with whatever the umpire called. I felt like I was safe - and the replay showed that I actually was. Fortunately for us, Mike Trout and Kole Calhoun stepped up.”

Santiago threw 106 pitches in 5 2-3 innings, allowing two runs and seven hits with six strikeouts and a walk before leaving with a 2-1 deficit. The left-hander was 3-0 with a 1.01 ERA in his six previous career starts against Oakland.

After stranding a runner at second base in each of the first three innings, Santiago retired the first two batters in the fourth before Lawrie ended an 0-for-16 drought with his sixth homer and Phegley hit his second four pitches later.

Giavotella led off the second with a double and scored on Efren Navarro’s single off Chavez, who allowed three runs and seven hits over seven innings on five days’ rest.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Athletics: Pat Venditte, who last week became the first ambidextrous pitcher to appear in a major league game since Greg Harris in 1995 was placed on the 15-day DL because of a right shoulder strain. The move is retroactive to June 10. Venditte is the ninth player currently on the team’s DL. They already have used the DL 17 times this season, one fewer than last year, and 15 players have been on it - including CF Coco Crisp and closer Sean Doolittle twice each.

Angels: 3B David Freese sat out his fourth straight game because of tightness in his right hamstring, although Scioscia said during batting practice that he was available to pinch-hit.

UP NEXT

Athletics: Kendall Graveman (3-2) faced the Angels on April 20 in Anaheim, throwing 73 pitches in three-plus innings and leaving with a 5-3 lead after walking his first two batters in the fourth. But he is 2-0 with a 2.55 ERA in his last four starts.

Angels: LHP C.J. Wilson (3-5) is 1-4 with a 6.00 ERA his last five starts, including a 6-2 loss at Yankee Stadium last Sunday, when he gave up six runs, seven hits and three homers in seven innings.


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