ANAHEIM — Jason Vargas earned his second shutout of the season with a four-hitter and Howie Kendrick homered, leading the Los Angeles Angels to a 3-0 victory over the Oakland Athletics on Tuesday night.
The Athletics, who clinched their second straight division title Sunday, remain a game behind the Red Sox for the best record in the majors following Boston's 8-3 loss at Colorado.
Vargas (9-7) threw 110 pitches, retiring 15 consecutive batters at one point and striking out five en route to his fifth shutout and 10th complete game in 153 career starts. The left-hander, who was acquired from Seattle last December for slugger Kendrys Morales, is 3-3 with a 4.64 ERA in his last nine outings after missing almost two months because of a blood clot near his armpit.
Griffin (14-10) gave up three runs and five hits over five innings. He was 4-0 in his previous five outings, including a no-decision last Wednesday against the Angels when he retired 17 of his final 18 batters and allowed one hit over six innings — a two-run homer by Mike Trout.
Griffin finished his first full big league campaign with a 3.83 ERA, 171 strikeouts in 200 innings, and a major league-worst 36 home runs allowed. The Oakland single-season record in that department is held by Catfish Hunter, who gave up 39 in 1973 and still won 21 games.
For the second straight night, Kendrick homered his first time up after not hitting one in his previous 30 games. The Angels increased the margin to 3-0 in the third on Josh Hamilton's two-out, two-run single with the bases loaded. Hamilton, making his fourth start in center field since joining the Angels, threw out Alberto Callaspo trying to stretch a single into a double in the eighth.
NOTES: The advance sale for Wednesday's home finale will easily put the Angels over the 3 million mark in attendance for the 11th straight season. They are 16,721 shy. ... 1B umpire John Hirshbeck called Yeonis Cespedes safe and then out on a bang-bang play in the seventh as second baseman Kendrick fielded the ground ball up the middle and completed an inning-ending double play. ... Vargas' other shutout this season was a three-hitter against Baltimore on May 3 in Anaheim. ... Kendrick homered in back-to-back games for the second time this season, including July 5-6 against Boston. ... Trout, who was presented with the Gene Autry Trophy before the game as the team's MVP for the second straight year, hasn't homered in his last 15 home games and 52 at-bats at Angel Stadium since going deep in back-to-back games against Texas Aug. 6-7. ... Josh Donaldson made his 153rd start at 3B, the most by an A's player at that position since Sal Bando in 1976 (155).