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Wilson's stellar pitching lifts Angels to shutout of A's

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The Canadian Press
7/20/2013 11:53:54 PM
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ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Getting ahead of hitters has been the primary reason for C.J. Wilson's recent stretch of success.

The Los Angeles Angels' left-hander retired 18 consecutive batters at one point during his duel with Oakland's Dan Straily, and Alberto Callaspo homered in a 2-0 victory over the Athletics 2-0 Saturday night. But at no point in the game did Wilson feel comfortable.

"Comfort is like a four-letter word in baseball. I mean, you get too comfortable and guys start whacking you all over the place. So you have to stay adamant and stay vigilant," the two-time All-Star said. "It's like workplace safety -- if there hasn't been an accident in 99 days, you're looking to extend that streak. I was upset that I walked a couple of guys tonight, because the last game I didn't have any walks."

Wilson (10-6) gave up three hits in 8 1-3 innings, struck out eight and walked two. Jed Lowrie's two-out double in the first and Nate Freiman's leadoff single in the second were the only hits off him until Lowrie's one-out single in the ninth on Wilson's 119th and final pitch.

"My first-pitch strike percentage has been up significantly over the last couple of years, and it's something I've been getting better at as my mechanics get more refined," Wilson said. "This whole year, it's been more of a theme."

Wilson began his string of consecutive outs with three straight strikeouts on 10 pitches and didn't allow another baserunner until he walked Derek Norris on a full count leading off the eighth. He was much more pitch-efficient than teammate Jered Weaver was in his 4-1 victory Friday night.

"They ran Jered's pitch count up last night -- he had like 90 pitches after four or five innings -- so my game plan was to try to get ahead of them," Wilson said. "In the past, I've had a tough time doing that against them because I was too deep into counts, so I tried to turn the tables on them. I'm not one of those guys who's going to strike out everybody, so I have to use the defence as much as possible."

Ernesto Frieri got the final two outs for his 24th save in 26 chances, striking out pinch-hitter John Jaso with runners at first and second to end it.

Wilson joined Ryan Dempster and Derek Lowe as the only pitchers in major league history to post 10 or more wins as a starter in four consecutive seasons after three straight seasons with 10 or more saves. The two-time All-Star is 6-1 with a 1.70 ERA over his last seven starts.

The AL West-leading A's lost their second in a row coming out of the All-Star break. Home Run Derby champion Yoenis Cespedes sat out his second straight game because of a sore left wrist that he injured during batting practice on Friday.

"He feels better today, but until our training staff feels like he's 100 per cent and not putting himself in a position where he could further injure it, it'll be day to day," manager Bob Melvin said.

Straily (6-3) allowed two runs and eight hits over seven innings, struck out four and walked none. The right-hander was 5-0 with a 2.83 ERA in his previous nine starts.

This is Straily's fifth stint with the A's this season alone. He was optioned to Triple-A the day after four of his starts -- once because Bartolo Colon was reinstated from the suspended list, once because Brett Anderson went on the disabled list, another time because the team had three days off during an eight-game stretch, and again because the All-Star break was coming up.

"They're very good about letting me know what's going on. It's beneficial to me," Straily said. "I understand my job and I understand what the final goal is. I don't take it personally. I go down there and do my work. Hopefully I'm the one they call back up."

The Angels, who have won 13 straight games in which Josh Hamilton has driven in a run, opened the scoring in the first with his sacrifice fly after Mike Trout was hit by a pitch and took third on Albert Pujols' opposite-field single. Trout extended his hitting streak to 12 games with a third-inning single, matching his longest in the majors.

Callaspo drove Straily's first pitch of the seventh inning into the first row of seats above the 18-foot wall in right field for his fifth homer.

"I just needed to throw up two more zeros than I did," Straily said. "My job is to go out there and just make pitches and keep us in the ball game as long as possible. I gave them a run in the first inning by hitting Trout. Pujols hit a good pitch and Hamilton hit the sacrifice fly. That's all they needed tonight."

NOTES: Batting practice was cancelled for both teams because of a steady rain that required the rarely used tarpaulin to be put on the field. The Angels have not had a home game rained out since June 16, 1995, when the Chicago White Sox were in town. "I didn't even know there was a tarp here. Apparently, there is," A's manager Bob Melvin said. ... Straily retired Mark Trumbo on an inning-ending double-play grounder in the sixth. The Angels have grounded into an AL-worst 98 double plays, while the Athletics' defence has executed a major league-low 69 DPs.

C.J. Wilson (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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