ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — In a season that has turned into a titanic struggle for the Los Angeles Angels, they suffered another pain-staking defeat Thursday.
The Halos tied a major league record with seven solo home runs, including two by Shohei Ohtani, but still lost to the Oakland Athletics 8-7 in a crazy matinee affair at Angel Stadium.
The Angels are the first team in the majors to hit seven solo homers and score no other runs in a game. They’re also the sixth team to hit seven homers and lose, according to STATS.
“I guess they always say solo home runs don’t beat you, but you feel like if you hit seven, you might. It didn’t work out for us,” Angels interim manager Phil Nevin said.
Los Angeles was 24-13 and tied with Houston for the AL West lead after beating Oakland on May 15. Since then, the Angels have gone 20-48 and are a season-low 17 games under .500 at 44-61.
The tailspin has included a 14-game losing streak, the firing of Joe Maddon on June 7, blowing a four-run, eighth-inning lead at Philadelphia on June 5 and a wild, bench-clearing brawl against the Seattle Mariners on June 26.
Ramon Laureano homered and drove in four runs, and Seth Brown had a two-run shot during a six-run third inning for AL-worst Oakland. Sean Murphy also drove in two runs for the Athletics, who took the final two games of the series and have won six of their last nine.
“Today was a little bit of a different baseball game than I have probably been a part of. It is a very interesting boxscore,” Oakland manager Mark Kotsay said. “I’m happy that our eight held up, and we were able to get a win.
“The goal is to win the game and score more runs. Solo home runs at the end of the day are nice, but they don’t necessarily always help you win games.”
Paul Blackburn (7-6) picked up his first win since June 16 despite surrendering four home runs on six hits.
“It was one of those days where any ball hitting the air seemed like it went out,” said Blackburn, who went five innings and struck out three. “I’ve never seen anything like that, but I’ll take a series win any day.”
Ohtani left Wednesday night’s game due to a left forearm cramp, but he bounced back with three hits and two RBIs. It was his 11th multihomer game in the majors and fifth this season.
Mickey Moniak — acquired from Philadelphia on Tuesday as part of the Noah Syndergaard trade — homered to right with one out in the ninth to get the Angels within a run. Max Stassi drew a walk but Taylor Ward struck out and A.J. Puk got Ohtani to fly out to short on the first pitch for his third save.
Kurt Suzuki, Taylor Ward, Jo Adell and Jared Walsh also went deep for the Angels, who went 2-5 on their homestand. The seven homers also tied an overall franchise record.
“It’s obviously a positive thing. I would have liked to get the win, but you know, offensively we’ve been needing to pick it up a little bit. So it was a positive sign,” said Ward, referring to the Angels batting .199 as a team in July.
The Los Angeles Dodgers were the last team to hit seven solo home runs on June 24, 2018, against the New York Mets.
Los Angeles led 2-0 after two innings on shots by Ohtani and Suzuki before Oakland broke it open in the third against Halos starter Janson Junk (1-1).
The Athletics sent 11 to the plate in the inning and scored six runs. Laureano tied it at 2 on a one-out double with the bases loaded before Murphy’s double into the left-center gap gave them the lead. Brown then chased Junk by driving a first-pitch curveball into the elevated seats in right-center to make it 6-2.
Junk threw five scoreless innings in his last start July 27 at Kansas City. The right-hander didn’t have the same success this time, with six runs allowed on five hits and two strikeouts.
“I think everybody started to focus on what they wanted to do in their zone. He was throwing a lot of breaking balls and this team threw a lot of breaking balls this series,” Brown said. “It was everyone kind of locking into they pitch they wanted.”
Laureano extended Oakland’s lead to 8-3 in the fourth when he connected on an elevated sinker by Touki Toussaint for a two-run homer to center.
Walsh went deep in the sixth and Ohtani in the seventh to make it 8-6.
ONE BY ONE
Solo shots by Ward and Adell in the third and fourth innings made it only the second time in franchise history the Angels have homered in each of the first four innings. The last time it happened was Aug. 19, 2017, in Baltimore when Mike Trout went deep in the first and third and Luis Valbuena did it in the second and fourth.
It is the third time it has occurred in the majors this season. The Los Angeles Dodgers did it May 24 at Washington and the Minnesota Twins on April 10 against Seattle.