Saturday, May 31, 2014
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Moss Grand Slam Leads Athletics To Win Over Angels

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[May 31, 2014]  OAKLAND, Calif. -- First baseman Brandon Moss led the Oakland A's with 30 home runs last year and had 78 career blasts going into Friday night's series-opener against the Los Angeles Angels, but there was one thing missing from his long ball resume: a grand slam.

Moss filled in that blank in the first inning, crushing a 96 mph fastball from Angels right-hander Garrett Richards into the right-field seats for his first career grand slam, giving the A's a 4-0 lead and sparking them to a 9-5 victory.

A's third baseman Josh Donaldson homered twice, but it was Moss who jump-started the offense, which left 14 runners on base Thursday in a 5-4 loss to Detroit.

Center fielder Coco Crisp and designated hitter John Jaso opened the inning with back-to-back singles and Donaldson walked, loading the bases for Moss.

Richards fell behind 2-0 in the count. When he threw a fastball down the middle of the plate, Moss quickly cleared the bases, joining Dave Kingman, Mark McGwire and Matt Stairs as the only Oakland cleanup hitters to hit a grand slam in the first inning.

"I've never even come close to hitting one," Moss said. "I think I came close-ish last year. We had bases loaded against the Twins and I flew out against the wall. It's definitely something I had thought about. I hit fastballs really well and right there he's going to throw you one. It was on my mind. Definitely not trying to do it, but I thought it would be really cool to do it."

Moss thought right.

"Four-run homers, you can't really do anything better as a hitter in a particular at-bat," said Moss, who now has nine home runs and 25 RBIs in May, career highs for any month. "It felt good, for sure."

The A's won the opener of a three-game series and increased their lead in the American League West to 2 1/2 games over the Angels.

Moss had to leave the game in the bottom of the third with tightness in his right calf -- A's manager Bob Melvin said he's day-to-day and doubtful for Saturday's game -- but Donaldson provided more than enough offense after his grand slam.

Donaldson hit a solo shot in the second to right and a two-run blast to center in the fifth, both off left-handed reliever Wade LeBlanc, giving him a team-high 15 homers for the season. He went 3-for-4, drove in four runs and scored three times.

Donaldson had his second career multi-homer game Friday -- he homered twice against Houston on April 24 -- and has homered five times in his past six games.

"Today I felt pretty good," Donaldson said. "You're preparing all day for Garrett Richards. He's throwing 96 to 98 and it has life to it. We were able to get to him pretty early. Then you have kind of the exact opposite guy come in, a lefty who's going to be crafty, who does a good job, but he just left a couple mistakes over the plate today and I was able to take advantage of it."

Second baseman Howie Kendrick hit a two-run homer and center fielder Mike Trout a solo shot for the Angels off A's left-hander Drew Pomeranz in the fourth inning. Designated hitter C.J. Cron had a two-run double in the sixth.

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Richards (4-2) lasted just two-thirds of an inning, allowing five runs and five hits, walking three and striking out two. He matched the shortest start of his career, but the other time he left a start that quickly was because of a groin injury. He hadn't pitched fewer than five innings in any of his first 10 starts this season.

"It's embarrassing," Richards said. "I didn't show up for us tonight. I couldn't find a feel for my two-seamer. It kept sinking out of the zone. I tried to make adjustments and I just couldn't do it."

Pomeranz (5-2) had his worst start of the season but got the win. Pomeranz, who allowed a combined two runs in his first four starts, gave up five runs on four hits, including two home runs, through 5 1/3 innings. He struck out two and walked three.

The A's sent 11 batters to the plate in the first inning, scoring five runs and knocking Richards out of the game.

"He couldn't get the ball into any good zones at all," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said of Richards. "That inning just steamrolled. It just wasn't there for him. I was all out of whack. Even after the grand slam, it went the other way. There comes a time when you don't want to put a pitcher at risk."

NOTES: Angels OF Josh Hamilton resumed his rehab assignment Friday night with Triple-A Salt Lake at Tacoma, and he could be activated from the disabled list as soon as Tuesday when the Angels open a three-game series at Houston, Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. Hamilton has missed 46 games since tearing the ulnar collateral ligament in his left thumb while diving into first base on April 9 against Seattle. Hamilton will travel with the Bees to Albuquerque and play rehab games Saturday and Sunday. ... Oakland 2B Eric Sogard is typically in the starting lineup when the A's face a right-handed starting pitcher, but he was out of the lineup Friday night against Angels RHP Garrett Richards. Sogard is batting .188 overall and .158 in May. A's manager Bob Melvin said he hoped a day off would help Sogard get out of his slump. Alberto Callaspo started at second base.

[ 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.]

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