OAKLAND — The Oakland Athletics are hardly relishing being back in a first-place tie with the rival Los Angeles Angels.
Both clubs know this division race is far from over, with five meetings remaining before August ends and another three in late September. And with a margin of error so slim, one miscue might be the difference.
Coco Crisp scored the go-ahead run on Joe Smith’s wild pitch with two outs in the eighth inning, and the A’s beat the Angels 2-1 on Saturday night to move into a share of the lead atop the AL West.
“We can’t get caught up in the standings or the playoff picture,” closer Sean Doolittle said.
Luke Gregerson (3-2) pitched a perfect eighth, and Doolittle finished for his 20th save. The closer felt something in his right side nearer to his back, but was able to go through some twisting exercises and other post-game tests with no problem. He doesn’t consider it serious.
The division co-leaders (76-52) have the most wins in baseball. The Angels lost their fifth straight game this season at the Oakland Coliseum.
Smith (5-2) threw wildly to pinch-hitter Brandon Moss moments after hitting Derek Norris.
On Monday in Boston, the Angels moved into sole possession of the division’s top spot for the first time since May 15, 2011. Losing the first two games of this series has things all tied up again.
Jon Lester and C.J. Wilson had a nice pitchers’ duel but left with no-decisions in a tie game. Lester struck out seven in seven innings, including Mike Trout three times as the slugger’s five-game home run streak at the Coliseum was snapped.
Lester bounced back from his first defeat in nearly 2½ months and first since joining the A’s from Boston. He threw a combined 18 pitches in the fifth and sixth innings, 14 for strikes. He then allowed three straight hits in the seventh, including a double by Howie Kendrick and Erick Aybar’s RBI single that made it 1-1.