Angels Lose To A's In Playoff Tuneup 3-2

Sunday, September 30th 2007, 9:37 pm
By: News On 6

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) _ Jered Weaver pitched well in his final playoff tuneup despite a no-decision, and that's certainly what Angels manager Mike Scioscia will take from his team's regular-season finale.

Kurt Suzuki blooped a winning single to shallow right with one out in the ninth inning, and the Oakland Athletics ended a five-game skid with a 3-2 victory Sunday over AL West champion Los Angeles.

``I thought Jered pitched well. He had good life on his fastball. He is where he needs to be,'' Scioscia said. ``We're healing up. Guys got their work in and we'll be ready to go Wednesday.''

Kendry Morales had tied the game on a solo homer with one out in the ninth for the Angels, who will open the division series against the Boston Red Sox on Wednesday at Fenway Park.

Huston Street (5-2) blew his fifth save, allowing his first earned run in 11 September outings on Morales' fourth homer, but still earned the victory.

Mike Piazza singled off loser Chris Bootcheck (3-3) to start the inning, then was lifted for pinch-runner Shannon Stewart, who scored the winning run. Bootcheck was one of the pitchers competing for the last spot on the postseason roster _ and this outing might have hurt his chances.

Mark Ellis scored the go-ahead run for the A's in the eighth on Nick Swisher's sacrifice fly, putting Chad Gaudin in position to win after the right-hander struck out a career-high 11. Mike Napoli hit a tying solo home run in the seventh that made it 1-1.

Now, the A's are headed into the winter on at least a slightly positive note after manager Bob Geren's first year in charge.

Weaver followed strong outings by fellow playoff starters John Lackey and Kelvim Escobar the previous two games. As planned, they will go in that order: Lackey in Game 1, Escobar in Game 2 and Weaver in Game 3.

``We'll go three deep and see how this series goes,'' Scioscia said.

Weaver, who was trying to win his third straight start and sixth in seven, allowed one run and four hits in six innings, struck out two and walked one.

``This whole season seemed to go by so fast until we clinched,'' Weaver said. ``This last week seems like it's taken all season waiting for the playoffs. I've been around the playoffs (with brother Jeff) four or five times. It's still nice to be making my first start in a playoff. I'm sure everybody will be pumped up, but we also have to calm our nerves.''

Daric Barton sent the first pitch he saw from Weaver in the third over the left-field fence for his fourth home run, all this month. After Marco Scutaro's leadoff double in the fourth, Weaver retired the final nine batters he faced before giving way to Ervin Santana to start the seventh.

Napoli started the seventh with his 10th home run of the season.

Slugger Vladimir Guerrero sat out a second straight game for Los Angeles while nursing sore triceps muscles on both arms, the left one injured when he got hit by a pitch Friday.

``Better,'' Guerrero said after he did some throwing.

Chone Figgins' funk reached 0-for-22 after his third-inning groundout, a stretch that began in his final at-bat Sept. 22 against the Seattle Mariners. Figgins, the Angels' speedy leadoff hitter, was lifted for Tommy Murphy in the bottom of the third and received treatment on his tender left wrist.

``He'll be fine,'' Scioscia said. ``Sometimes getting a couple days off can freshen you up.''

Figgins clearly wasn't concerned about how his injury-shortened year ended.

``I don't see no down notes,'' he said with a grin.

The A's finished the year at a disappointing 76-86 after winning the AL West and reaching the AL championship series last season _ but wound up in third place ahead of Texas. Oakland, which dealt with injuries to the majority of its top players this year, had its streak of winning seasons end at eight and went 9-17 in September for its worst final month since going 8-20 in 1985.

``It was nice to finish ahead of Texas,'' Geren said. ``It doesn't mean a lot to teams. The only thing that matters is whether they are going to the playoffs. But it gives you a little bit of an emotional lift.''

The A's still won the season series (10-9) with the Angels for the first time since posting a 12-8 mark in the rivalry in 2003.

Piazza, a first-year DH after 15 seasons in the National League, left to a warm ovation after his ninth-inning single. While he will weigh his options this winter, Piazza's career could be over and he knows it.

``I have a lot of decisions and a lot of them deal with my family now,'' Piazza said. ``I will keep myself in shape. I'm always drifting around. I'll get to the beach and spend time with my daughter. ... I'm very flattered and honored the way the fans treated me here, even through some tough times.''

Notes: The Angels' Orlando Cabrera, Gary Matthews Jr. and Garret Anderson also got another day of rest to heal their nagging injuries before the playoffs. ... Ellis received the ``Good Guy'' award voted on by the local reporters who regularly cover the team. ... Scutaro stole his second base for the A's. ... The A's drew 1,921,834 fans for the season, their lowest total since 2000 _ and this marked the second straight year under 2 million.