By Joe Haakenson, AngelsWin.com Contributor -
GAME 17 -ANGELS AT A’S
OAKLAND -- A couple of Angels could not agree on who was at fault for their 8-7 loss to the Oakland A's Saturday afternoon before 20,253 at the Oakland Coliseum.
There was first baseman Scott Spiezio, who made a throwing error in the eighth inning that led to two unearned runs. And there was pitcher Al Levine, who gave up those runs, blowing a 7-6 lead after the Angels had rallied from a 6-0 deficit.
Spiezio and Levine each blamed himself, and neither was willing to listen to the other side.
''I (expletive) sucked,'' said Levine, who gave up a sacrifice fly to Frank Menechino that tied it and a two-out RBI single to Scott Hatteberg that turned out to be the game-winner. ''I (expletive) had the lead and I lost it. End of the day. I didn't throw strikes.
''(Spiezio's error) had nothing to do with it. Whether or not that play's made, I've still got to do my job.''
The fateful eighth inning began with the Angels leading, 7-6, but Levine walked Greg Myers with one out. Carlos Pena followed with a slow roller to Spiezio at first, but his throw to second to force pinch runner Mark Ellis was wide and pulled shortstop David Eckstein off the base.
Levine then walked Jeremy Giambi to load the bases before yielding Menechino's sacrifice fly and Hatteberg's RBI single. David Justice followed with a walk but the Angels escaped further damage when right fielder Orlando Palmeiro made a diving catch of Eric Chavez's line drive.
''Yeah, I rushed it,'' Spiezio said of his throw. ''It was a slowly hit ball and I think I got a little greedy and tried to force a double play when it might not have been there. There's no excuse for that. I didn't plant my feet and take my time. It was pretty dumb.
''If I put Al in a better situation then things might've been different. I take the blame for that, definitely.''
In losing, the Angels blew another late-inning lead. Last season they were 61-4 when leading after seven innings; this season they are 5-2 when leading after seven.
''I don't think any losses are easy,'' manager Mike Scioscia said. ''The positive signs we saw in our club is what we have to take out of today. We're not going to give up too many leads. It just got away from us today.''
The A's took a 6-0 lead by scoring all six runs in the third inning off Angels starter Kevin Appier, who lasted only 2 2/3 innings. But the Angels rallied against A's starter Barry Zito. The Angels scored two runs in the fourth on a solo homer by Troy Glaus and an RBI single by Jose Nieves.
On his homer, Glaus flipped his bat in disgust, thinking he popped the ball up.
''It must've caught wind or something,'' Glaus said. ''I was running it out like I had a popup. I had no idea.”
In the fifth, Garret Anderson singled in one run and Tim Salmon doubled home two more. Salmon scored the tying run on a wild pitch. The Angels went ahead in the sixth on Glaus' RBI double off Jeff Tam.
''That was great,'' Spiezio said. ''The guys did a great job of getting on base and driving in guys in key situations. I thought Salmon had an awesome at-bat when he doubled in the two runs.''
While the Angels offense is showing signs of breaking out of its season-long slump, the pitching failed Saturday, starting with Appier. Appier got through the first two innings without any trouble, but he wasn't so fortunate in the third.
The big hit was Miguel Tejada's two-out, three-run double, which came right after Appier intentionally walked Chavez to load the bases.
Asked what went wrong in the third, Appier said: ''It was more like all day. I never really had command. I got away with it in the first two innings, but in the third it caught up to me. Obviously, I felt like crap because of the way I threw.''
After falling behind in the eighth, the Angels were retired 1-2-3 in the ninth by A's closer Billy Koch, who earned his fourth save.
OAKLAND -- Center fielder Darin Erstad was discharged from Summit Medical Center in Oakland Saturday after an MRI exam was normal. Erstad, whose chin hit the turf when he dived for a ball in Friday's game, was diagnosed with a mild concussion and returned to the team hotel in San Francisco.
Erstad had a CT scan and X-rays on Friday night, which were normal. According to Angels trainer Ned Bergert, the CT scan tests for acute bleeds on the brain and the X-rays test for fractures to the skull and cervical spine.
Erstad is not expected to return to the field for at least the next four or five days and he might return to Southern California after being examined again today.
''It would be like a boxer getting a right hook to the jaw,'' Bergert said of Erstad's injury, adding that Erstad's head-first encounter with the fence in Anaheim last Tuesday while trying to make a catch could have contributed to his condition.
Erstad always has shown no fear of diving or running into fences when trying to make catches in the outfield. His all-out style of play, though, isn't a concern to manager Mike Scioscia.
''I really think when you play all out your natural athleticism prevents a lot of injuries,'' Scioscia said. ''Darin's very athletic. Whenever you play as hard as you can, your athleticism gives you protection.''
With Erstad out indefinitely, the center field spot will be shared by Jeff DaVanon and Orlando Palmeiro. DaVanon started Saturday and went 1 for 4 with a walk and a double. He also made a nice running catch on a drive to left-center by Miguel Tejada in the seventh inning.
''Jeff brings the element of a guy with good tools,'' Scioscia said. ''He's a guy you hope will energize parts of the lineup. He has good running speed and he has a very good arm. Hopefully he'll fill a little bit of the void with Ersty out.''
DaVanon came to the Angels in 1999 as part of a five-player trade that sent pitcher Omar Olivares and second baseman Randy Velarde to the A's.
''I'm not going to try to hit a home run every time like I did last year,'' DaVanon said. ''I learned my lesson.''
DH Brad Fullmer was a late scratch from Saturday's game because of a bruised left hand. He had X-rays taken Saturday, which were negative.
Fullmer hurt his hand in the third inning Friday night when he slid head-first into first base while beating out an infield single.
''I knocked the wind out of myself so I didn't notice it right away,'' Fullmer said of his hand. ''I was trying to catch my breath.''
Fullmer said he expects to be able to play today.