LeBlanc makes case to stick around with Angels

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OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Three times this season Wade LeBlanc got designated for assignment and bounced back, two of those cases with his current club.

His latest performance might have earned him a spot on the Angels' playoff roster, or at least made manager Mike Scioscia think hard about the decision.

LeBlanc (1-1) ran his scoreless stretch to 15 2-3 innings over his last six outings in a 2-0 victory over Oakland on Tuesday night, dropping the Athletics into a tie with Kansas City for the AL's top wild card spot.

"Any time players perform well, it's going to help you to be stronger and help you make decisions," Scioscia said. "We haven't made any decisions yet but these are two strong starts from Wade."

LeBlanc allowed five hits in 5 1-3 innings for the AL West champions. LeBlanc is the second of three straight left-handers the Angels are throwing in this series.

He was first designated by the Angels on May 31, then by the New York Yankees in June, and Los Angeles again in late August.

"It's been awesome. It's been a big-time blessing to end up back here with the opportunity I've had to throw some meaningful pitches and try to give these guys a chance to win," LeBlanc said. "They've been awesome about everything."

Gordon Beckham homered for the Angels, who struck out 12 times against A's starter Sonny Gray. Mike Trout was fanned three times in Gray's biggest strikeout game yet, one month to the day after Jon Lester struck out the Angels slugger three times at the Coliseum.

But Gray had nothing to show for it as Oakland was shut out for the seventh time since Aug. 1.

Gray (13-10) is 0-3 in his last six starts. The right-hander has one victory in 11 starts since a 5-0 July that earned him AL pitcher of the month honors.

Of Trout's 13 games with three or more strikeouts, three are against the A's. Gray struck out eight of the first 11 batters he faced.

"He was tough against us," Scioscia said. "We didn't get many hits but we did some things on the bases to generate some runs. We made it hold up."

The A's had a chance to tie the game in the fifth after Josh Reddick's one-out double. Eric Sogard grounded out two batters later on an off-balance throw by second baseman Howie Kendrick that just beat Sogard, who slid headfirst.

Los Angeles went ahead in the second on an unearned run when Erick Aybar scored from third during a rundown. Efren Navarro was caught stealing at second on a 2-6-3-4 double play after Hank Conger struck out swinging.

Beckham hit his ninth homer leading off the sixth.

The A's loaded the bases in the eighth against Joe Smith, who retired Stephen Vogt on a shallow fly to right to escape unscathed. Huston Street finished the three-hit shutout for his 16th save with the Angels and 40th overall.

"I left a small village of runners in scoring position," Vogt said.

Oakland was shut down after scoring 16 runs over its previous two games. That outburst came after the A's totaled only 19 runs in their previous 10 contests.

LeBlanc did his part.

"Whatever happens after this is hopefully with this team," he said. "I love the guys here, I love the staff. Everything's been incredible so far."


Angels: Jered Weaver (18-8) had the flu for a second straight day and left the ballpark. Scioscia said there is flexibility to push Weaver's next start from Friday to Saturday if the right-hander needs an extra day. ... 3B David Freese was held out of the lineup after he experienced tightness in his upper back earlier in the day. ... OF Josh Hamilton hit off a tee for the second straight day. He missed his 18th game in 19 because of pain in his upper body. ... Scioscia said RHP Matt Shoemaker is "symptom-free" from a strained left oblique but won't pitch again in the regular season. He still needs to throw off a mound. "You don't want to jump over a step and risk setting yourself back," Scioscia said.

Athletics: C Derek Norris was the DH for a second straight day after requiring an injection in his troublesome shoulder. He is slated to start Wednesday's series finale.


Angels: LHP Hector Santiago (5-9, 3.98 ERA) has pitched two or fewer innings in each of his past two starts — both losses — after winning his previous three. He had no-decisions with a 1.00 ERA in his first three outings against Oakland this season.

Athletics: Lester (16-10, 2.41) looks to improve on his 3-1 September record and beat the Angels for the first time in three starts this year.

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