ANAHEIM (AP) — Not even Sunday’s champagne-soaked celebration of another division title could knock the Oakland Athletics off their soaring trajectory toward the playoffs.
Jed Lowrie hit a three-run homer, Brandon Moss added a two-run shot and the A’s kept rolling into the playoffs with their fifth straight victory, 10-5 over the Los Angeles Angels on Monday night.
Tommy Milone pitched into the sixth inning and Seth Smith had an early RBI double for the AL West champions, who have won 11 of 13.
Oakland could have been excused for signs of a hangover from Sunday’s home finale and the resulting party in the Coliseum clubhouse, but that’s not how this increasingly remarkable team operates.
“Just because we clinched yesterday, that doesn’t mean we’re not going for more,” Milone said. “Home-field advantage, whatever it is. We’re not going to stop.”
Seven A’s drove in a run at the Big A as Oakland (94-63) moved to a season-high 31 games over .500 with the majors’ second-best record, just behind Boston (95-62). If the A’s can catch the Red Sox over the final five games, they’ll have home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.
“That’s what’s great about this team,” Lowrie said. “We’re doing a good job of staying steady. It carried over to today, even after the celebration last night. ... We’re just going to go out there and do what we’ve done all year. Wherever that puts us, that’s where we end up, and that’s where we should be.”
The A’s have scored 49 runs in their last five games, and the offensive barrage didn’t let up after the club clinched its second consecutive division title Sunday. Lowrie hit his 15th homer in the third inning in Anaheim, and Moss followed with his 28th in the fifth.
“They play the same regardless, every day,” Oakland manager Bob Melvin said. “Whether it’s a tough loss, whether it’s a win, whatever. Any time you can get home-field advantage, it’s important, but we’re just focused on winning as many games as we can, and if that happens, then it’s a good thing.”
Milone (12-9) struck out eight while giving up five hits and two earned runs in his second start since Aug. 27. He pitched two innings of relief last Friday, but got this spot start in A.J. Griffin’s place.
Howie Kendrick homered and hit a three-run double for the Angels (76-80), who have lost two straight after winning 21 of 28. They hadn’t lost by more than three runs since Sept. 3, but couldn’t keep up with Oakland in the opener of the final home series of the season.
“Whether we get to .500 or not, we’re just trying to win ballgames,” Kendrick said. “They’re a good team, and they made the postseason. Tonight they came up with a couple of long balls and went up early. We came back and still had a lot of fight.”
Garrett Richards (7-7) gave up eight hits and seven runs while failing to get out of the fifth inning in his worst start since joining the Angels’ rotation full-time in late July. The right-hander got rocked in his final home audition for a rotation spot in 2014, giving up the most runs he has allowed in 12 starts taking Joe Blanton’s spot.
“I was just a little off tonight,” Richards said. “Those guys came out hacking, and they barreled up a lot of balls early and kind of caught me off guard. I didn’t give us a chance to win, but I’m not discouraged by it.”
Josh Reddick, Smith and Stephen Vogt delivered consecutive two-out hits off Richards in the second inning, scoring two runs.
Kendrick replied in the bottom half with his first homer since July 6. The Angels’ second baseman missed 33 games with a hyperextended left knee, but has hits in eight of his nine games since returning.
Coco Crisp and Josh Donaldson then opened the third with singles before Lowrie’s homer into the elevated right-field stands.
Los Angeles loaded the bases in the third on Kole Calhoun’s walk, and Mike Trout struck out before Kendrick pounded a line drive high off the wall in right, matching his season high with four RBIs.
Oakland kept piling on with Moss’ homer and Eric Sogard’s RBI single in the sixth. Former Angels infielder Alberto Callaspo had an RBI single for the A’s in the ninth.
After going 1 for 10 in last weekend’s series against Seattle, Trout struck out three times against Milone before beating out an infield single in the eighth. He is 13 hits shy of 200 for the season.
NOTES: Angels 1B Mark Trumbo, stuck in an 0-for-16 slump, drove in a run with a sacrifice fly in the sixth. ... Griffin’s start was pushed back to Tuesday against Los Angeles LHP Jason Vargas. Angels ace Jered Weaver is expected to make his scheduled start Wednesday after missing last week’s turn with tightness in his forearm. ... Angels RHP Tommy Hanson made his first career relief appearance in the seventh, pitching 2 1-3 innings in his first action since a demotion to Triple-A Salt Lake in mid-August.