Series: Game 2 of 3

Oakland leads 2-0 (as of 6/30)

Game 1: Tuesday, June 29
Game 2: Wednesday, June 30
Game 3: Thursday, July 1

Angels 2

(41-36, 19-20 away)

Athletics 4

(43-33, 26-12 home)

    10:05 PM ET, June 30, 2004 Coliseum, Oakland, California 

    123456789 R H E
    ANA 000020000 2 5 1
    OAK 00110002 - 4 10 0

    W: C. Bradford (4-4)

    L: S. Shields (5-2)

    S: O. Dotel (16)

    Scutaro's single breaks tie

    OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- Marco Scutaro is the most consistent No. 9 hitter in the American League, even if his recent numbers indicate otherwise.

    Scutaro hit a tiebreaking two-run single with two outs in the eighth inning to lead the Oakland Athletics to a 4-2 win over the Anaheim Angels on Wednesday night.

    Scutaro, batting just .161 over his last 15 games, singled to right against Scot Shields (5-2) to snap an 0-for-8 skid and give Oakland its fifth win in seven games.

    Scutaro is batting an AL-best .311 when in the ninth hole, and .195 in other spots in the order.

    "I've been kind of struggling the last two or three weeks," said Scutaro, who became the A's starting second baseman after Mark Ellis went out with a shoulder injury in spring training. "It's a long season. You just keep battling. It always feels good when you're struggling at the plate and get a big hit like that."

    Scutaro's big hit came a night after rookie shortstop Bobby Crosby hit a go-ahead two-run single in the seventh inning of the A's 5-4 win -- showing that the two inexperienced middle infielders are becoming more reliable every day.

    "It's amazing," manager Ken Macha said. "We talked about Crosby last night and tonight it's Scutaro."

    Chad Bradford (4-4) pitched two-thirds of an inning for the win, and Octavio Dotel worked the ninth for his second save in three opportunities since being acquired from Houston in a three-team trade last Thursday.

    Shields' lone two losses since Sept. 11, 2002, have been to the A's.

    "I got myself in a jam in (my) first inning and got away with it," Shields said of the seventh. "You can't give them too many chances like that. We've hit a little bump in the road and we have to fight through it. We're going to turn this thing around. We're going to be all right."

    Adam Kennedy hit a tying two-run homer in the fifth for the Angels, who lost their third straight and fifth in seven games.

    A's starter Barry Zito pitched seven strong innings, but didn't get enough run support to get a decision. He's winless in the last four starts.

    Zito sat in the dugout crossing all his fingers on both hands hoping for a run in the seventh -- and a win. Eric Karros was also in on the finger-crossing.

    "He wanted to do this thing, and I kind of joined him," Zito said. "It didn't work. I won't do it again."

    Oakland had runners on the corners with two outs in the inning and Jermaine Dye at the plate facing Shields, who surrendered a homer to Dye last Thursday. But Dye struck out swinging.

    Zito lost his last two decisions and hasn't won since beating Cincinnati 10-6 on June 8. The left-hander, who won the AL Cy Young award in 2002, has struggled with location. He looked better Wednesday, allowing two runs on four hits, striking out four and walking two.

    Macha said before the game Zito needed to be better early in games, and keep from falling behind. Since San Francisco jumped out to a five-run lead -- all unearned runs -- in the first inning of Zito's previous outing last Friday, he has responded well. And he's relaxed, too.

    "A lot of times if you give up a lot of runs early, you just go out and pitch," he said. "It takes you into attack mode."

    Zito got a 1-2-3 first, then gave up two singles in the second but pitched himself out of the threat. After Kennedy's single leading off the third, Zito retired six straight before Robb Quinlan walked in the fifth. Kennedy connected on a 1-0 pitch two batters later for a two-run shot to right.

    Angels starter John Lackey gave up seven hits and two runs in six innings.

    Anaheim manager Mike Scioscia called a team meeting after the game to discuss what's been going wrong.

    "We need to pick things up," he said. "We need to play better. We've been a little disjointed. We're having a rough spell. We definitely have to pick it up, and I'm sure we will."

    The A's took a 1-0 lead on Mark McLemore's RBI single in the third, then loaded the bases in the fourth on singles by Dye, Erubiel Durazo and Adam Melhuse. Eric Byrnes hit a sacrifice fly to right to score Dye for a 2-0 lead.

    The A's evened the season series between the AL West rivals at 6-6. Anaheim swept Oakland in a three-game series here April 23-25.

    Game notes

    Zito is 10-5 in 18 career starts against the Angels -- his most wins against any club but Texas. He has 12 victories vs. the Rangers. ... Angels DH Tim Salmon didn't play after becoming sick during the day with what manager Mike Scioscia called flulike symptoms. ... The game drew 35,016, putting the A's over the million mark (1,032,303) in attendance. ... In 18 starts at 3B in place of injured Gold Glover Eric Chavez, McLemore is batting .290 (18-for-62) with 15 walks.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press