The Los Angeles Angels began the season confident Albert Pujols would anchor a powerful lineup.
Pujols has been an anchor, all right. But the slumping slugger is just one reason the Angels are sinking to depths of historic proportions.
Tyson Ross allowed five hits in six strong innings to snap a three-start skid, Josh Reddick homered and Seth Smith hit a two-run double in the Oakland Athletics' 5-0 victory Monday night.
Dan Haren (1-4) yielded six hits and four runs during another poor start for the Angels, who were shut out for a major league-worst eighth time this season, a club record for 36 games into the season. The shutouts occurred over the past 31 games.
Los Angeles' offense wasn't helped when outfielder Torii Hunter went on the restricted list before the game to deal with his teenage son's arrest, but an entire Angels lineup stacked with proven veteran hitters has been alarmingly inept.
"This team is too good to be shut out as much as we've been shut out this season," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "I think we had better at-bats than it's going to show in the box score. ... It's going to be a grind. There's only one way out of the hole, and that's to grind, inch by inch."
Pujols went 1 for 4 with an eighth-inning single, following up his 5-for-26 road trip by drawing scattered boos as his batting average improved to .197. The $240 million man hit his only homer of the season in the Angels' previous home game May 6.
"It's been frustrating, and it's surprising," said Vernon Wells, who went 1 for 4 and made a diving catch in left field. "When you do everything right and still don't get the results, that's one of the most frustrating things about this game."
For all of the Angels' offensive problems, their No. 2 starter's struggles might be even more worrisome.
Haren didn't make it out of the fourth inning of his last start when his back tightened up, resulting in the three-time All-Star's shortest start in seven years. He was no better against the A's, his former team, allowing a baserunner in each of his first five innings and finishing his six innings with four walks.
The Angels trail the Texas Rangers by eight games in the AL West, their largest deficit on May 14 since 2001 — and Los Angeles' disappointing season keeps getting uglier.
Hunter left the team after his 17-year-old son, Darius, was arrested in Texas during an investigation of sexual assault of a child, a second-degree felony. Hunter was put on the restricted list, and Scioscia refused to speculate how long the Angels' clubhouse leader will be absent.
Smith also doubled and scored on Josh Donaldson's sacrifice fly for the A's, who have won five of their last six road games and four straight at Angel Stadium.
After throwing an impressive no-decision in this stadium last month, Ross (2-3) thoroughly enjoyed another short trip south, striking out two and only allowing a runner to reach third base in the fifth inning. He yielded 25 hits and 19 runs over just 13 innings in his past three starts, but he carved up the struggling Angels before three relievers contributed one scoreless inning apiece.
"I don't know what it is," said Ross, who has given up just six runs over 25 2-3 innings at Angel Stadium in his career. "I feel comfortable on that mound, with the backdrop, everything. I'm able to get on top of hitters and get some action early in the count."
Kurt Suzuki drove in another run in Oakland's eighth win in 12 games overall.
Reddick hit his ninth homer in the first inning, a no-doubt blast into the elevated stands in right. Smith hustled for a double in the fourth, advanced on a wild pitch and scored on Donaldson's lineout.
Oakland loaded the bases with nobody out in the fifth, and Smith stroked a one-out double over Pujols' head before Haren escaped the jam. Ross and his relievers didn't need any more help.
"There are just ballparks you feel comfortable in," Oakland manager Bob Melvin said. "There's mounds and places where you have some success and feel good. It's not like this is the easiest lineup to navigate through ... and (Haren) is not an easy guy to hit."
NOTES: Ervin Santana pitches Tuesday for the Angels on their four-game homestand before a 10-game road trip up to Memorial Day. Former Angels RHP Bartolo Colon starts for Oakland. ... Home plate umpire Tom Hallion was hit on the left arm by Kendrys Morales' foul tip in the first inning. Hallion danced away from the plate in obvious pain, but stayed in the game after a few minutes of recovery. ... Oakland's Collin Cowgill stole second base while Jemile Weeks struck out in the third inning, but Hallion ordered him back to first after Weeks interfered with Angels C Bobby Wilson on the follow-through of his swing. Cowgill stole the base two pitches later.