Angels' magic number still 4 after A's rally for victory

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Jack Cust and the Oakland Athletics are
making it difficult for the Los Angeles Angels to wrap up a playoff

Cust homered and doubled in the go-ahead run during a six-run
eighth inning, and Oakland rallied from a seven-run deficit to beat
the Angels 15-10 on Saturday night.

"You don't want to mess with a team that's out of it like they
are," Los Angeles center fielder Torii Hunter said. "A lot of
guys over there are fighting for positions next year, and they come
hungry. I'm not saying we don't, but they're starving. They're like
hyenas right now. They're playing great baseball."

The Angels, whose magic number to clinch their third straight AL
West title remained at four, lost their season-high fourth
straight. They were the only team in the majors that hadn't lost
more than three in a row this season.

The Angels lead Texas by five games with eight to play,
including a four-game set against the Rangers that begins Monday
night at Angel Stadium.

"We've just got to get to our first goal. It doesn't matter
when it happens, really," Angels pitcher John Lackey said.

The A's have won 11 of their last 13, a stretch that began with
a three-game sweep at Texas, and they can sweep the Angels with a
victory Sunday.

"It's a huge confidence booster," Oakland's Ryan Sweeney said.
"To be down 9-2 in the fourth and come back and win, it's a huge
win for us. We've been putting it together pretty good over the
last couple of weeks. It's a little bit too late, but we've got
nothing to lose right now. So we've just got to go out and try to
improve and put together as many good ballgames as we can."

Kurt Suzuki and Mark Ellis also homered for the A's.

Rookie Kevin Jepsen (6-4) was charged with four runs and three
hits in the Oakland eighth, including a tying RBI single by Suzuki
after the right-hander struck out Rajai Davis and Sweeney with
runners at the corners. Cust's double gave the A's an 11-10 lead,
and Daric Barton greeted Matt Palmer with an RBI single before
Ellis capped the rally with a three-run homer.

Craig Breslow (8-7) pitched 1 1/3 innings for the victory after
giving up an RBI single by pinch-hitter Gary Matthews Jr. that put
the Angels ahead 10-9 in the seventh.

"Tonight they hit the ball hard. They had 19 hits and there
were no cheapies," Hunter said. "They beat us. If we're going to
get beat, we should get beat like that."

Cust was 3 for 5 with four RBIs and Barton was 4 for 5 with two
RBIs. Suzuki had three hits and a season-high four RBIs during
Oakland's 19-hit outburst, raising his team-high RBI total to 85.

"Kurt's doing an unbelievable job," Sweeney said. "He catches
every single day. And to have that grind on your body and still
produce the way he does is pretty impressive."

Darren Oliver relieved Lackey after five innings with a 9-6 lead
and gave up two runs in the sixth. Adam Kennedy hit an RBI double
and scored on a two-out wild pitch to Sweeney.

Lackey allowed six runs and 10 hits. The right-hander, who
hadn't allowed a home run in his previous five starts, gave up a
two-run shot by Suzuki in the first and a three-run shot by Cust in
the fifth.

"That last inning I kind of got caught in a situation where I
didn't want to walk anybody and threw a couple of 3-2 heaters
pretty much down the middle," Lackey said. "Sometimes a team with
nothing to lose is pretty dangerous. The offense was there for us
today, and I stunk."

Suzuki gave the A's 2-0 lead in the first with his 15th homer
after a two-out walk to Sweeney. Juan Rivera responded in the
bottom half with a three-run shot over both bullpens, giving him
new career highs in homers (24) and RBIs (86).

All three runs off Dana Eveland in the Angels' first were
unearned after shortstop Cliff Pennington botched a potential
double-play grounder by Bobby Abreu when he took a throw from
second baseman Ellis off the bag and wasn't able to get the out at
first, either.

The Angels increased their margin to 9-2 with six runs in the
fourth. Jeff Mathis hit an RBI single, and Kendrick scored when
Kennedy hit him in the back with his throw to the plate after
fielding Maicer Izturis' grounder. Chone Figgins chased Eveland
with a two-run single and Abreu hit a two-run homer on Brad Kilby's
first pitch, giving him 100 RBIs for the season.

Game notes: Abreu needs one stolen base to become the second player
in the Angels' 49-year history with at least 100 RBIs and 30 steals
in the same season. Bobby Bonds had 115 RBIs and 41 steals in 1977.
... Any combination of Oakland losses and Seattle wins that equals
three will guarantee the A's their seventh last-place finish since
division play began in 1969, and their first since 1998.