ANAHEIM (AP) — Dan Otero’s longest relief stint in the majors proved vital for the Oakland Athletics in the opener of their four-game series with the Los Angeles Angels.
The four-year veteran right-hander got credit for the Athletics’ 6-3 victory over the Angels on Monday night, allowing one hit over four innings after Stephen Vogt’s three-run homer in the third had put the A’s ahead to stay.
“Dan Otero single-handedly gave us a chance to win this game,” Vogt said. “That’s the guy we know and love. That was exactly what he needed and what everybody else needed — to pick us up and take us out of a jam. He was some kind of on-point tonight. He had a couple of little hiccups to start the season, but no one was worried about it.”
Marcus Semien also homered to help stake rookie Kendall Graveman to a 5-3 lead in his third major league start. But the right-hander lasted just three-plus innings. Manager Bob Melvin pulled him after he walked Erick Aybar and C.J. Cron to open the fourth and ran his pitch count up to 73.
“I’ve got to go deeper in ballgames. There’s no excuses,” Graveman said. “I’m getting too deep into counts, and I’m not the kind of guy who can do that. But Dan did a great job coming in behind me.”
Otero (1-1) bailed out Graveman by retiring the next three batters. He has not allowed a run in 13 career appearances against the Angels, spanning 19 2/3 innings.
“I’m sure they’ll get one off me soon enough,” said Otero, who threw 42 pitches. “I’ve tried to limit my pitch count. I’d been getting away from that, trying to be too fine. But tonight I was just trying to attack guys. I was able to keep going back out there and was very fortunate.”
Melvin said: “He was a life saver. I mean, it looked like it was going to be a 10-8 game, and he comes in and just shuts it down. ... We don’t win the game without him.”
Evan Scribner pitched a perfect eighth and Tyler Clippard got three outs for his first American League save and 35th of his career.
Angels starter Matt Shoemaker (2-1) threw 68 pitches in three-plus innings, giving up five runs and seven hits while retiring only eight of the 18 batters he faced. The right-hander had won his previous nine decisions, beginning with a three-inning relief stint against Boston in a 19-inning, 5-4 victory last Aug. 9.
Vogt, batting third in the order for the first time this season, gave the Athletics a 4-2 lead in the third with his fourth homer, following a leadoff double by Sam Fuld and an infield hit by Mark Canha.
“I’ve hit in every spot in the order except leadoff since I’ve been here with the A’s,” Vogt said. “And what I’m learning is that it doesn’t matter where you’re hitting in the order. You take care of your at-bat the same way you would in every other spot in the lineup, because we jumble things so often here.”
The Angels scored an unearned run in the bottom half when Albert Pujols hit the ball to left field over Canha’s head, after Mike Trout reached on Semien’s fielding error at shortstop and stole second. Semien, the Athletics’ No. 9 hitter, got that run back with in the fourth with a towering drive into the lower seats in the left-field corner on Shoemaker’s final pitch.
It was the second time in three starts this season that Shoemaker gave up two homers — something that happened to him only once in his 21 previous big league starts.
“There’s not really much to explain, other than it was just one of those off-nights,” Shoemaker said. “My stuff wasn’t really working out for the best. I just tried to battle through some things, battle myself and try to execute pitches.”
Oakland didn’t get another hit until Eric Sogard led off the ninth with a double against Fernando Salas. Fuld drove him in with a sacrifice fly.
Athletics: RHP Jesse Hahn will be skipped one turn in the rotation to allow the blister on his middle finger to heal properly. RHP Jesse Chavez, who relieved Hahn after 65 pitches in Saturday’s win at Kansas City, is penciled in to make the start instead on Thursday in the finale of this four-game series. ... 2B/OF Ben Zobrist, whose 18-game hitting streak against the Angels is the longest by any active player, sat out with an injured left knee that occurred on Sunday.
Athletics: LHP Drew Pomeranz (1-1) takes the mound after giving up four runs over five innings last Tuesday in a 6-1 loss at Houston.
Angels: LHP Hector Santiago (1-1) allowed two earned runs over 23 1-3 innings in his four starts against Oakland last season. He faces an offense that has gone homerless in 322 at-bats against left-handers, dating back to last Sept. 7.