By Joe Haakenson, AngelsWin.com Contributor -
GAME 16 - ANGELS AT A’S
OAKLAND -- The Angels played one of their better games of the season Friday night, holding off a ninth-inning rally by the Oakland A's to win, 9-7, before 12,468 at the Oakland Coliseum. But it didn't come without a price.
Center fielder Darin Erstad was taken to the hospital to undergo a CT Scan on his head and neck after he hurt himself diving for a ball in the third inning.
Carlos Pena hit a blooper to shallow left-center with two out in the third that Erstad dived for head-first. He short-hopped the ball and threw too late to second as Pena slid in with a double.
Erstad finished the inning and then batted in the top of the fourth, grounding out to first base. But he didn't make it out to the field for the bottom of the fourth. He was examined by A's team physician Dr. Allan Pont, who recommended Erstad go the the hospital for further examination.
''When he dove for the ball he hit his chin,'' Pont said. ''When he came off he was a little light-headed. Mostly he was a little groggy. The tests are to make sure there's no head injury.''
On Tuesday in Anaheim, Erstad made three diving attempts for batted balls, making one spectacular catch but also slamming head-first into the fence on a triple hit by the Rangers' Frank Catalanotto.
Erstad remained in the game that day, then was the designated hitter on Wednesday. He was back in center field for games against the A's Thursday and Friday. But the effects from Tuesday may have contributed to his condition.
''It might have been residual from hitting the wall the other night,'' Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. ''When he got up from diving he felt bad. It was tough for him to focus and his equilibrium was a little off.''
After the game, closer Troy Percival rushed to get dressed and leave for the hospital to check on Erstad.
''Any time that guy comes off the field, obviously he's not feeling too good,'' said Percival, who saw Erstad when he entered the clubhouse for an examination. ''I told him to hang tight, you'll be OK.”
As Erstad was on his way to the hospital, the Angels were putting up their highest run-total of the season. Bengie Molina had three hits and drove in three runs, Garret Anderson had two hits and two RBIs, and Adam Kennedy had two hits and two RBIs.
The windfall of offense was a boon for Angels starter Jarrod Washburn, who responded with his best performance of the season. Washburn (1-2), winless in his previous 10 starts going back to last Aug. 19, went 6 1/3 innings and allowed three runs and eight hits.
Though they led, 9-3, going into the ninth, the Angels were forced to call upon Percival once the A's mounted a threat.
The A's cut the Angels' lead to 9-5 against reliever Donne Wall and had runners on first and second with one out when Scioscia summoned Percival. Percival, who had not pitched in a game since April 2 because of a strained muscle in his right side, walked Scott Hatteberg to load the bases.
Pinch hitter Greg Myers then singled home two runs to make it 9-7. But Percival struck out Olmedo Saenz and got Miguel Tejada to hit into a force play to end it.
Mike Fyhrie, who pitched for the Angels in 2000, started for the A's in place of the injured Mark Mulder and retired the first six batters he faced.
The string ended in the third with a leadoff walk by Tim Salmon, who went to third on the Angels' first hit, a hit-and-run single to center by Molina. Kennedy followed with an RBI single to give the Angels a 1-0 lead.
After a failed sacrifice bunt attempt by David Eckstein and a groundout by Erstad, Brad Fullmer beat out an infield single to drive in Kennedy for a 2-0 Angels lead. It turned out to be a key hit because it extended the inning for Anderson, who ripped a two-run double to left-center for a 4-0 Angels edge.
The four runs are the most the Angels have scored in an inning this season. And it is more runs than they have scored in half (8 of 16) of their games this season.
OAKLAND -- The Angels acquired Brad Fuller from the Toronto Blue Jays in a trade for pitcher Brian Cooper during the offseason to fill their void at the designated hitter spot. But until their series-opener against the A's on Thursday, Cooper had as many RBIs as Fullmer this season -- zero.
Fullmer finally got on the board Thursday with a sacrifice fly.
''I can't create opportunities,'' said Fullmer, who averaged 94 RBIs in the past two seasons with Toronto. ''It just so happens that I haven't had many opportunities with men in scoring position. Coupled with the fact I'm not swing great ... what can you do?''
Fullmer, who went into Friday night's game hitting .222, always seems to have a bat in his hands before, during and after games. He's a regular in the batting cage.
''I'm trying to get shortened up, be short and compact (with his swing),'' Fullmer said. ''I just want to be consistent with my swing. That's all I'm trying to work on right now.''
Fullmer hit No. 3 in the lineup Friday for the third time in a row, which is fine with him.
''I think Brad is swinging better now, he just doesn't have a lot to show for it,'' Scioscia said. ''He's taking his walks, and we'd like to get hitters in front of (cleanup hitter) Garret (Anderson) that are going to be productive. With so many guys not on their game offensively, Brad makes sense right now.''
Scioscia said Thursday that sitting down right fielder Tim Salmon for more than a game at a time was a consideration, but after missing Thursday's game Salmon was back in the lineup Friday batting seventh.
''When a guy is struggling, you look for opportunities to get him to stop beating his head against the wall,'' Scioscia said. ''Our dilemma is you want to get a guy enough at-bats to work his way out of it, but we still need production in the short term.''
Salmon went into Friday's game hitting .143 with no homers and three RBIs, but Scioscia doesn't want to make Salmon's status a daily issue.
''It's not going to be a case where Tim Salmon comes in every day wondering if he's playing,'' Scioscia said. ''But I know we need to get production from some guys, and not just Tim.
''If he's swinging the bat well, it's not going to be an issue. If he does struggle, we're going to mix and match.''