OAKLAND, Calif. — Albert Pujols and the Los Angeles Angels will outspend the Oakland Athletics any day.
So far this season, that’s about all the Angels can do better than their AL West rival.
Tommy Milone scattered five hits over seven innings and Kila Ka’aihue drove in the go-ahead run, leading the pesky A’s past the Angels 2-1 on Monday night.
Oakland, with a league-low $53 million payroll, is 5-2 against Los Angeles, fourth on the salary list at $155 million, this year.
“The confidence grows every time you play a good game against them,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “The fact that we’re winning some close games here recently against the division and a good team like the Angels, confidence goes a long way.”
Nothing flashy about the way the A’s keep winning.
Milone (6-3) struck out three, walked one and never allowed the anemic Angels offense to get going. The lefty’s only blemish was an RBI double by Mike Trout in the fifth that landed between two Oakland infielders.
Ryan Cook pitched a perfect eighth to extend his scoreless streak to 21 2-3 innings to start the season, and Brian Fuentes tossed a perfect ninth for his fourth save in five chances.
“Tremendous amount of confidence right now,” Milone said. “It’s easy when you have such a big park with a lot of foul territory. I feel like when I’m here, I’m not afraid to pitch to contact.”
Kurt Suzuki drove in a run on a double-play groundout in the second and Ka’aihue’s RBI single in the third snapped Jerome Williams’ four-game winning streak. Williams (4-2) hadn’t lost since his first start of the season, April 15 at the New York Yankees.
Los Angeles has lost three straight — all by one run — and four of five. The Angels are 3-9 in one-run games this season.
“There are a number of guys who aren’t swinging the bat to their capabilities,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “We’re in such a hole that we’re not going to make it up in one or two days. It’s that pitch-by-pitch grind we have to work toward.”
Another bad day for the Angels ended even worse.
The team learned in the afternoon that Vernon Wells tore a ligament in his right thumb stealing second base in Sunday’s 3-2 loss at San Diego. The outfielder will have surgery Tuesday in Los Angeles and be out for at least eight to 10 weeks.
The Angels, with Pujols pushing them to the big payroll, watched the low-budget A’s walk away with another victory.
All the latest took was two bases-loaded jams to send Los Angeles to another loss.
After Seth Smith singled to lead off the second, Josh Donaldson doubled to right and Daric Barton walked. Williams got Suzuki to ground into a double play and Cliff Pennington to ground out, escaping the inning with Oakland ahead 1-0.
Ka’aihue’s single scored Coco Crisp — activated off the disabled list earlier Monday after a bout with an inner-ear infection — from second to give the A’s a 2-0 lead in the third.
Williams walked Smith to load the bases again before Donaldson lined out to shortstop Howie Kendrick, whose off-balance throw caught Josh Reddick leaning off second for an inning-ending double play.
Oakland’s only mistakes came on defense.
Trout popped up down the line and first baseman Barton and second baseman Jemile Weeks gave chase. They almost collided as the ball bounced off Barton’s glove for a double, scoring Kendrick from second to make it 2-1.
“It’s all about trying to keep the guys in the hunt for a win,” Williams said. “I think I did that tonight and I want to keep doing that.”
Notes: The A’s optioned INF Eric Sogard to Triple-A Sacramento to make room for Crisp. … A’s slugger Manny Ramirez went 2 for 2 with a walk in Sacramento’s 6-5 loss at Round Rock. He’s eligible to return to the majors from a second positive drug test May 30, his 40th birthday. … Oakland slugger Yoenis Cespedes won’t come off the DL when he’s eligible Tuesday. The Cuban defector, wearing a brace around his strained left wrist, said he hopes to take batting practice at some point this week.