ANAHEIM, Calif. - Manager Bob Melvin was successful on a replay challenge that turned a home run by Los Angeles Angels slugger Mike Trout into a home run. That was the only thing that went right for the Oakland Athletics in the opener of a three-game series against their AL West rival.
Third baseman Josh Donaldson committed three throwing errors that led to a pair of unearned runs, and Jesse Chavez dropped a 4-1 decision to Garrett Richards on Monday night as Oakland's AL West lead over the Angels shrunk to 3 1/2 games.
Trout's only hit of the game drove in Hank Conger, who had bunted his way on and continued to second on Donaldson's first error. Donaldson also threw the ball away later that inning after fielding a grounder by Albert Pujols, then did likewise on Howie Kendrick's groundball behind third base leading off the eighth. Kendrick scored on Conger's single off Jim Johnson.
"It's just one of those things where it just kept building," said Donaldson, who had never made more than one error in any of his 309 previous regular-season games in the majors. "It was one of those days. We'll try and leave it behind us and turn the page for tomorrow."
Melvin challenged first base umpire Bob Davidson's original call on Trout's towering drive to right field in the fifth inning, believing the ball was touched by a fan at the top of the 18-foot wall. After the call was overturned, Angels skipper Mike Scioscia came out to argue and was ejected by Davidson.
"I don't know how they overturned the home run. That ball was over the yellow line when it hit that guy's glove. There's no doubt," Scioscia said after the Angels' fourth straight win. "I don't know what they saw in New York — and that's part of the frustration that I have with this whole system. There's no way that's indisputable evidence that that was not a home run."
Richards (6-2) allowed a run and four hits, struck out four and walked none. The right-hander, who pitched four-hit ball through eight innings last Wednesday in a 4-0 win at Houston, gave up just two harmless singles over his final 5 1-3 innings against an offence that came in leading the majors in runs and on-base percentage.
The last time Richards faced the A's on May 30, he gave up five runs while getting just two outs. He entered Monday 0-3 with a 7.50 ERA in his six previous career starts against the A's.
"I wasn't really thinking about it too much," Richards said. "But in the back of your mind, you want to do better than you did. Two-thirds of an inning is pretty weak. I gave them one that time, and I felt like this time was my turn to come out and show them what I've got."
Joe Smith pitched a perfect eighth inning and Ernesto Frieri struck out the side in the ninth for his 11th save.
Chavez (5-4) allowed three runs — two earned — and eight hits in six innings with five strikeouts. It was the ninth time in his 13 starts this season that he yielded fewer than three earned runs, but his record in those games is only 4-2.
The Angels, coming off sweep of the Chicago White Sox, were out to avenge a three-game sweep by the Athletics 1 1/2 weeks earlier at Oakland. They broke a 1-all tie in the fourth with a bloop RBI single by Raul Ibanez. Ibanez's hit drove in David Freese, who drew a leadoff walk after walking all four times up in Sunday's game.
Stephen Vogt and Yoenis Cespedes each had two hits against Richards. Vogt opened the scoring in the second inning with a two-out RBI single after a double by Cespedes.
Chavez hit Conger on the right elbow with his first pitch of the third, after Richards plunked John Jaso on the left foot with two out and the bases empty in the top half.
Conger hustled to third on Kole Calhoun's bloop single to left-centre and scored the tying run on a sacrifice fly by Trout, who was robbed of extra bases on a leaping catch by centre fielder Coco Crisp a few feet in front of the fence.
NOTES: The Athletics' failed to hit a home run after getting at least one in each of their previous 16 games (27 total). ... Oakland 1B Alberto Callaspo, whom the A's acquired from the Angels in July 2013, was 0 for 3 is hitless in 13 career at-bats against Richards. ... Chavez's only other start against the Angels was on April 14, when he allowed two runs over seven innings and got a no-decision in Oakland's 3-2 win at the "Big A."
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