Saunders beats Braden; Aybar gets 4 hits as first-place Angels beat A’s 7-1

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OAKLAND, Calif. — Joe Saunders threw a complete game, Erick Aybar had a two-run triple among his four hits and the Los Angeles Angels beat the Oakland Athletics 7-1 on Wednesday night.

Oakland left-hander Dallas Braden dropped to 0-4 with a 4.75 ERA in six starts since his perfect game against Tampa Bay on May 9.

Saunders (5-6) took a shutout bid into the ninth inning before giving up Kevin Kouzmanoff’s RBI single. Saunders, who shut out the A’s 4-0 on May 14 in Braden’s first start after that perfecto, was efficient all night this time in an impressive 101-pitch outing that took 2 hours, 26 minutes.

Juan Rivera homered in the eighth as the first-place Angels rebounded from a 10-1 loss a night earlier for their seventh win in eight games — and seventh in eight contests at Oakland.

Saunders allowed seven hits, struck out two and walked one in his fourth career complete game. He faced the minimum in the second, fourth, fifth, sixth and eighth innings and got Ryan Sweeney to ground into double plays in the fourth and seventh.

The lefty received plenty of run support to win back-to-back starts for the second time this season. Saunders beat the A’s for the seventh time in the last nine matchups, and his 11 victories versus Oakland are the pitcher’s most against any opponent.

Torii Hunter singled in a run and scored and Rivera and Robb Quinlan added RBI singles in the sixth, with Quinlan’s hit chasing Braden (4-6). Aybar then tripled off Brad Ziegler. Hideki Matsui hit a run-scoring single in the ninth.

Improving to 8-2 during their current 14-game stretch away from home, the Angels have won eight games on a road trip for the first time since June 22 to July 1, 1987. That time, they went 8-1 against Texas, Chicago and Cleveland.

A’s centre-fielder Matt Carson slammed face-first into the wall trying to chase down Rivera’s solo drive, but he was OK and stayed in the game.

Oakland had little success against Saunders a night after producing a season-high 18 hits to snap a six-game home losing streak to the Angels.

Braden matched a season high by allowing 11 hits for the second straight start. He yielded five runs, four earned, in 5 2-3 innings.

After Hunter singled home the go-ahead run in the third — it was unearned after shortstop Cliff Pennington’s throwing error started the inning — Oakland left fielder Jake Fox saved a second score with a strong throw to the plate and a perfect lunging tag of Quinlan by catcher Kurt Suzuki.

NOTES: Kouzmanoff matched his career-best hitting streak of 10 games. ... Angels 3B Maicer Izturis had the night off. He missed two games with a sore hamstring and knee before returning to the lineup Tuesday night. ... Oakland OF Gabe Gross was held out of the lineup after tweaking his back Tuesday while sliding into home. ... A’s CF Rajai Davis, whose left hamstring tightened up on a triple Monday, missed his second straight game. Manager Bob Geren said Davis wouldn’t play in Thursday afternoon’s series finale and will be re-evaluated Friday. ... Geren’s third baseman son, Bobby, was drafted by the A’s in the 36th round out of San Ramon Valley High. He has committed to Princeton and appears headed to college. “Pretty good opportunity,” the elder Geren said. ... Los Angeles 1B Kendry Morales, who broke his left leg jumping on home plate in a celebration following his game-ending grand slam vs. Seattle on May 29, will undergo surgery Thursday.

Organizations: Los Angeles Angels

Geographic location: OAKLAND, Calif, Tampa Bay Texas Chicago Cleveland San Ramon Valley High Princeton Seattle

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