ANAHEIM, Calif. – A.J. Griffin threw eight scoreless innings, becoming the second Athletics pitcher in 85 years to start his major league career with six straight wins, and Yoenis Cespedes homered for Oakland in a 4-1 victory over the Los Angeles Angels on Wednesday night.
The Athletics, who can sweep the four-game series by beating Angels ace Jered Weaver on Thursday, have won 15 of 18 and are 22 games over .500 (82-60) for the first time since the 2006 club finished 93-69.
The A's won their 12th consecutive road game, matching the 1971 squad for the longest streak since the club relocated from Kansas City to Oakland in 1968. The franchise record is 14 in a row, set in May 1931.
Oakland's road winning streak is the longest in the majors since 2003, when Seattle won 13 straight away from Safeco Field.
Griffin struck out six and walked none in the longest of his 11 career starts. The 24-year-old right-hander, one of four rookies in the A's rotation along with Jarrod Parker, Dan Straily and Tommy Milone, lowered his ERA to 1.94 in his third start off the disabled list.
The only other A's pitcher since 1927 to win his first six decisions as a big leaguer was Jim Nash, who was 7-0 over his first nine starts in 1966.
Sean Doolittle gave up a leadoff homer in the ninth by Albert Pujols before Ryan Cook got the final out for his 14th save. Pujols, a three-time NL MVP, became the first player in history with 30 homers in each of his first 12 big league seasons. He also tied Stan Musial and Willie Stargell for 28th place on the career list with No. 475.
Ervin Santana (8-12) was charged with two runs — one earned — and four hits over six innings. He struck out six.
It was the eighth time this season that his teammates didn't score a run while he was in the game — including five straight starts by Santana in which the Angels were shut out.
The Angels got a scare in the fourth when Santana was struck on the right arm by a line drive off Josh Donaldson's bat. He scrambled after the ball in time to get the force at second base on Brandon Moss, then was allowed to take a few practice pitches to test his arm after manager Mike Scioscia and trainer Adam Nevala went out to check on him.
Oakland got an unearned run in the first when Josh Reddick doubled with two outs and scored on an error by shortstop Erick Aybar.
Cespedes made it 2-0 with his 18th homer leading off the sixth, ending a career-worst 22-game homerless drought. The A's tacked on two runs in the eighth with Derek Norris' RBI double and an RBI single by Coco Crisp.
The Angels ran themselves into an out in the third, when Chris Iannetta tried to advance from first to third on Mike Trout's single to center and Crisp made a perfect, one-hop throw to Donaldson.
NOTES: Santana has given up a major league-worst 35 homers, the most in his eight-year career. ... Rookie pitchers have 40 of the A's victories, four shy of the Oakland record set in 2009. ... A's starters have walked three batters or fewer in 41 consecutive games, tying the Oakland record set in 2001. ... The Angels haven't been swept in a four-game set by Oakland since the final series of the 2001 season, when they finished the schedule with a 2-19 thud. ... Pujols, relegated to DH duty the past 15 games because of a sore right calf, is hitting .317 with two homers and 10 RBIs during that stretch. ... Santana has not allowed a seventh-inning run in any of the last 32 starts in which he's pitched through the seventh. The streak began on Sept. 11, 2010. ... Aybar's error was his 13th, matching last season's total when he won his first Gold Glove.