ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) - The Oakland Athletics sent the Los Angeles Angels to a defeat that may last with them - and closer Jordan Walden - for a long time.
Josh Willingam homered to start a ninth-inning rally, and Walden threw away a potential game-ending double-play grounder as the A's came back for a 6-5 victory Sunday.
``We were down three runs, and we battled back,' Willingham said. ``They gave us a couple of things, and we took advantage of it.'
Trying to get a four-out save, Walden gave up Willingham's 28th homer, and Scott Sizemore and Chris Carter singled with one out. Walden (5-4) then threw Adam Rosales' comebacker past shortstop Erick Aybar and into center field as Sizemore scored.
``I knew I was working with Aybar,' Walden said. ``But the ball was hit back to me so hard and so quick, I hesitated for a second and the ball just sailed on me.'
Kurt Suzuki then sliced an opposite-field double to right on a 1-2 pitch, delivering the tying run, and Coco Crisp put the A's ahead with his second sacrifice fly of the game.
``I blew one by Suzuki and then threw another one that was better, but he just stuck his bat out there and it went down the line,' Walden said. ``I let the team down. We battled all day and I lost the game for us. It's tough. I'm really disappointed in myself. I feel like if I take it home with me, I might stay awake until 6 in the morning and not get any sleep.'
It was Walden's 10th blown save in 42 chances.
Fautino De Los Santos (3-2) got the victory despite giving up a two-run single to Peter Bourjos in the eighth. Andrew Bailey got three outs for his 23rd save in 25 attempts.
``We had a couple of great at_bats, like Kurt Suzuki on that ball to right field in a key situation, and then that ground ball up the middle that could have ended the game gave us a chance,' Willingham said.
The A's won the season series 11-8, their best record against the Angels since going 12-8 in 2003. The loss left Los Angeles three games behind Boston and two back of Tampa Bay in the AL wild-card race with three games left.
``It hurts to lose a game like that,' right fielder Torii Hunter said. ``We got insurance runs in the bottom of the eighth and just couldn't close it out. There were some mistakes there and they capitalized on them. When you've got a chance to get that wild card, you just can't make mistakes - defensively for sure. So this game really hurts, trust me. We've got an uphill battle - but at the same time, we've still got life left and we're still breathing.'
Joel Pineiro made his final start of the season for the Angels on his 33rd birthday, allowing three hits over 6 1-3 scoreless innings and retiring his first 13 batters. He took a one-hitter and a 3-0 lead into the seventh, then watched the collapse on television in the clubhouse.
Oakland's Rich Harden allowed three runs and eight hits in six innings and finished his season with a 5.12 ERA.
Bobby Abreu's RBI single in the first and third-inning homer built a two-run lead, and Vernon Wells' 25th homer made it 3-0 in the fifth.
Jemile Weeks' RBI single and Crisp's first sacrifice fly cut the gap to 3-2 in the eighth - the latter driving in the first run against Downs at home in 28 appearances this season.
NOTES: The Athletics are 5-71 when trailing after eight innings, and the Angels are 72-6 when leading after eight. ... DeJesus robbed Kendrick of extra bases in the fifth, making a backhanded grab of his drive toward the corner and colliding with the short padded fence. He bruised his left hip on the play, but played one more inning before leaving the game. ... Abreu batted .237 against Oakland this season with one home run. Last season, he hit .328 against the A's with six homers. ... Harden was 0-4 with a 6.75 ERA in seven starts against AL West teams this year, and 4-0 with a 3.86 ERA in eight starts against other clubs. ... Oakland concludes its season with a three-game series at Seattle.
The Associated Press News Service
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