OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) - The Athletics used pitching to get into the wild-card race. Their hitters are helping keep them there.
On a day when Oakland pitchers allowed five home runs, including a pair by Kendrys Morales, the A's got production at the plate from just about everyone in their lineup and continued their second-half surge.
``It's chemistry, man,' closer Ryan Cook said after securing Oakland's 9-8 win over the Los Angeles Angels on Wednesday. ``The days when they're struggling offensively, we're going to do our part to keep it one less. The days they're raking, we're going to do our best to keep it at that.
``It's extremely selfless, this whole team, from top to bottom.'
Chris Carter and George Kottaras homered, and Yoenis Cespedes added a two-run single for the A's.
Since getting shut out in the opener of this three-game series with the Angels on Monday, Oakland has scored 19 runs on 23 hits.
``The more we go along, the more we win and the more we compete with teams that are considered the best teams, the more confidence we're going to have,' A's manager Bob Melvin said. ``We have to try to instill more confidence in ourselves going forward that we can play with good teams, and to this point we've done pretty well.'
Oakland, which won the final two games of the series against its division rivals after losing the opener, improved to 17-8 since the All-Star break and is a majors-best 23-9 since the start of July.
Pat Neshek (1-0) recorded one out in the sixth for his first win with Oakland. Cook, the sixth pitcher used by Melvin, gave up two runs in the ninth before locking down his 12th save.
The A's beat the Angels for the seventh time this season and kept pace with first-place Texas in the AL West despite the rocky outing from rookie starter Dan Straily and blowing a 4-1 lead.
They did it by getting production throughout the lineup: Eight Oakland starters had at least one hit and six drove in runs.
``We have good at_bats late in the game and when we need the clutch hit, we get it,' said Carter, who has 10 home runs in 27 games since being recalled from the minors. ``I feel like when the game is tied late, we're going to win every game. Someone's going to come through.'
The A's needed every bit of their offense after falling behind 5-4.
Coco Crisp started the comeback with a game-tying RBI double in the sixth before Cespedes lined a single to right to drive in Crisp and Josh Reddick. Carter followed with his two-run home run to give the A's a 9-5 lead.
All the damage in the sixth came off Los Angeles reliever LaTroy Hawkins (2-3).
``When you score eight runs you have to find a way to win,' Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. ``Troy had a tough sixth inning. At some point things have to stabilize coming out of the `pen to give us a chance.'
Four of the Angels' home runs came off Straily, the A's right-hander who was making only his second career start.
Zack Greinke walked five in five innings, remaining winless since his trade from Milwaukee to the Angels.
Oakland's sixth-inning outburst prevented Greinke from getting his first win since being acquired July 27. Greinke's season-high five walks all came in the second inning when the A's batted around and scored four runs.
Straily wasn't much better.
The rookie right-hander, who led all of baseball in strikeouts when he was called up from the minors Aug. 3, labored throughout and pitched with runners on base in every inning after striking out the side in the first. He left after giving up Morales' two-run homer in the fifth.
Morales also homered in the second. It's the third multi-homer game this season for Morales and the ninth of his career.
Chris Iannetta, Torii Hunter and Mark Trumbo all homered for the Angels. Trumbo's home run, a solo shot in the seventh, is his 29th this season.
Los Angeles nearly rallied in the ninth.
Howie Kendrick hit a two-run single off Cook and stole second with two outs before Erick Aybar grounded out to end it.
The teams played the final three innings with only three umpires.
Home plate umpire Bill Miller left the game in bottom of the sixth for unknown reasons. Miller had just signaled Moss out on a called third strike when he abruptly turned and left the field.
That came five innings after Miller was hit in the facemask by a pitch from Greinke. The pitch sailed over the glove of Iannetta and hit the umpire squarely in the facemask. Miller stayed in the game but eventually left.
Second base umpire Dan Iassonga replaced Miller behind the plate.
Kottaras hit a two-run home run off Greinke in the second.
Notes: The five home runs tie a season high for the Angels. ... Straily had five strikeouts and one walk in 4 2-3 innings. ... Oakland RHP Brandon McCarthy (shoulder) ran in the outfield before the game and is scheduled to come off the disabled list to start the series opener in Chicago on Friday. McCarthy (6-3) has been on the DL since June 24. ... A's RHP A.J. Griffin (strained right shoulder) has not thrown since going on the DL on Aug. 5. ... RHP Erwin Santana (5-10) will pitch for the Angels when they begin a 10-game homestand against Seattle on Friday.
The Associated Press News Service
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