Lackey picks up 100th win as Hunter, Morales batter A's arms

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- John Lackey joined the Angels in 2002, just in time for their only World Series title. Seven years and 100 wins later, he thinks Los Angeles is in position to add to his ring collection.

Lackey pitched eight innings of five-hit ball to earn his landmark victory, Torii Hunter and Kendry Morales hit three-run homers, and the Angels salvaged a split of their series with the last-place Oakland Athletics in a 9-1 victory Sunday.

After losing his previous two starts, Lackey (9-7) became the fifth pitcher to win 100 games with the Angels, joining his pal Chuck Finley, Nolan Ryan, Frank Tanana and Mike Witt. The right-hander limited Oakland to one unearned run while retiring 13 of his final 15 batters and improving to 16-4 in his career against the A's.

"It's great to be associated with guys like that," said Lackey, whose ascent to 100 wins was slowed by injuries in the last two seasons. "I guess it's a big moment in your career, and it means you've had a good career. ... It's definitely weird to be the oldest guy on the staff now."

The 30-year-old Lackey sees similarities between the 2002 club and the current Angels, whose offense appears to be rounding back into form late in an unimpressive 3-4 homestand. Los Angeles had lost seven of its previous 10, matching the division leaders' worst stretch of the season.

"Hopefully we can keep getting some runs and take it into the final weeks that way," Lackey said. "You've got to be playing your best baseball at the right time. Several guys on that '02 team will tell you we might not have been the best team, but we were hot. ... That '02 team was more of an offense-based team, for sure. We didn't pitch that well."

Chone Figgins drove in two runs and Gary Matthews Jr. added a run-scoring double for the Angels, whose win and Texas' loss pushed Los Angeles' AL West lead back to five games over the Rangers with five weeks left.

Brett Anderson (7-10) remained winless in his last four starts for Oakland, allowing seven hits over six innings. The 21-year-old gave up all four of his runs in the fifth inning, including Hunter's go-ahead shot to deep center -- and Anderson got just one run of support for the 11th time this season.

"Any time they get the kind of pitching they got today from Lackey, they're going to be a tough team to beat regardless of who they're playing," Anderson said. "They're a really good ballclub. The way they're swinging the bats, especially the way Morales did in this series, they're a tough team to beat."

Morales' 30th homer off reliever Jay Marshall in the Angels' five-run eighth inning gave the Cuban first baseman 33 RBIs in August, breaking the club record for RBIs in a month. Bobby Bonds drove in 31 runs in August 1977, but Morales leads the AL with 45 RBIs since the All-Star break.

Lackey and Anderson had a thrilling duel at the Coliseum on July 19, with Anderson taking a perfect game into the seventh inning and Lackey throwing nine scoreless innings of three-hit ball. Los Angeles won 1-0 on Bobby Abreu's 10th-inning homer.

Neither pitcher was quite as sharp in the blistering Orange County heat. The A's managed an unearned run in the third when Daric Barton reached third on Eric Patterson's double and then ran home when Lackey's pickoff throw to second was dropped by shortstop Erick Aybar.

"Competition-wise, he hasn't lost a beat," said Oakland's Adam Kennedy, Lackey's longtime teammate with the Angels. "He's still the guy you want when you need a win. Pitching-wise, he got away with things before because of his stuff. Now he knows what he's doing. He executes a lot of his pitches and doesn't make a lot of mistakes. That's why he's one of the best."

In the fifth, Howie Kendrick hit a leadoff single and scored on Figgins' double. Hunter followed moments later with his 19th homer to cap an 11-for-28 homestand with two homers and six RBIs.

"Something clicked today, and I felt like my old self," said Hunter, who returned from the disabled list two weeks ago. "I hadn't felt like myself since I'd been back, but I felt so good today, I can't explain it."

Game notes
Before the game, a swarm of bees formed around the railing outside baseball agent Scott Boras' luxury box on the dugout level at Angel Stadium. ... LHP Scott Kazmir threw a bullpen session on his first day with the Angels, who acquired him Friday from Tampa Bay. The two-time All-Star will make his Los Angeles debut at Seattle on Wednesday. ... Angels RHP Jason Bulger is unavailable for a few days while he rests a sore throwing shoulder, manager Mike Scioscia said.