Oakland's lead in AL West shrinks


OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- Though the Anaheim Angels would need a
miracle to get back to the World Series, their bullpen is still
world-class -- and K-Rod is back on top of his game.

Postseason hero Francisco Rodriguez pitched out of a
seventh-inning jam for the victory, and Garret Anderson drove home
Adam Kennedy with the go-ahead run in the eighth as the Angels beat
the Oakland Athletics 3-1 Monday night.

Injuries and inconsistency have left the world champs 14 games
behind Oakland in the AL West, but the players who remain haven't
stopped working. The A's repeatedly failed to drive home runners
against starter Aaron Sele -- and when Anaheim's league-best bullpen
gets involved, most games are finished.

The Angels got another fine performance from Rodriguez (7-2),
who received notoriety and a catchy nickname after winning five
games during last season's playoffs following a September callup.

Rodriguez relieved Ben Weber with two runners on in the seventh.
He struck out free-swinging MVP Miguel Tejada with four straight
sliders, then got Scott Hatteberg to ground out.

"In that situation, all you want is to get a strikeout or a
groundball for a double play," Rodriguez said. "I made the
pitches I wanted to make. You want to make them chase."

Though his early season struggles got plenty of attention,
Rodriguez is in a serious groove near the close of his rookie
season. He's limited batters to an AL-best .171 average
(45-for-263), and his 2.65 ERA is tops among AL rookies.

"He hit some bumps in the road, but as the season has gone on,
he's having a terrific season," Anaheim manager Mike Scioscia
said. "He's not getting much attention because we're not achieving
what we'd hoped, but he's got to be a Rookie of the Year candidate.
There aren't many rookies that are doing what's he's doing."

After Rodriguez pitched the eighth, Troy Percival picked up his 32nd save in 35 chances.

Hatteberg had an RBI double for the A's, whose eight-game home
winning streak was snapped by their fifth loss in six games
overall. Oakland's AL West lead over idle Seattle shrank to 1
games -- the first change in the margin since Aug. 28.

Hudson (14-6) struck out seven in 7 2/3 innings, holding Anaheim
scoreless over the first six innings. But after Shawn Wooten hit the first pitch of the seventh for a game-tying homer, Oakland's
ace fell apart under a heavy pitch count to lose his second
straight following a seven-game winning streak.

His teammates repeatedly squandered opportunities to give him a
lead: Oakland stranded 10 in the first seven innings.

"Anaheim presents tremendous problems for you when you don't
have the lead after six innings," said A's manager Ken Macha,
whose team actually led 1-0 after six. "Their bullpen is
lights-out. You must have the lead against this team after the
sixth inning."

After Wooten's homer tied it, Kennedy led off the eighth with a
double into the right-field corner. Anderson, 3-for-5, singled up
the middle for his 114th RBI.

Hudson already had thrown more than 110 pitches, but Macha left
him in. Jeff DaVanon doubled and eventually scored on Wilson Delgado's bases-loaded walk.

Hudson, who finished with 127 pitches, exchanged angry words
with plate umpire Alfonzo Marquez as he left the mound. He allowed
nine hits and four walks.

"I just kind of want to get the breaks here and there," Hudson
said. "I can't blame anyone but myself. It's just kind of
frustrating. We have to take advantage of the opportunities we

The A's limped home from an East Coast road trip with four
losses in their previous five games -- all after a 10-game
winning streak that put them atop the AL West for the first time in
4 months. The majors' top home team couldn't shake its struggles
despite facing an Anaheim lineup composed mostly of the backups on
the world champions' injury-plagued roster.

Hatteberg stranded four runners while extending his two-week
slump, but drove home Eric Chavez with a double in the fifth.

Sele allowed just four hits and one run in five innings, but he
walked three, hit two more and went deep in the count with

Game notes
OF Jermaine Dye made a nice diving catch to end the third.
He also got an eighth-inning single -- his first hit in 15 at-bats
since returning from two months on the DL with a separated right
shoulder. ... Chavez, last season's AL Gold Glove winner at third,
made an acrobatic, sprinting catch on Chone Figgins' pop foul in the sixth. ... Actors Seann William Scott and The Rock threw out
the first pitches. The Rock's toss was high and outside.