A's try to damper playoff hopes for Angels

The Oakland Athletics try to play spoiler this evening when game series with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at the Coliseum.

The A's have been a thorn in the side of the Angels this season, taking nine of the 14 matchups, including six of the seven meetings in Oakland. That was the case in Monday's opener, as Josh Willingham hit a three-run home run and finished with four RBI to help Oakland to a 6-3 win.

Kurt Suzuki had three hits and Cliff Pennington added two hits, an RBI and a run scored for the Athletics, who had lost four of six coming into the game. Gio Gonzalez (13-12) gave up two runs on seven hits with a walk and six strikeouts over 6 2/3 frames to get the win.

"I was mostly focused on trying to keep the ball away from their bats," Gonzalez said. "It's a good hitting team, one that fights until the end."

Vernon Wells hit a solo homer and had two RBI while Erick Aybar also hit a solo home run for the Angels, who have dropped their past two games. Joel Pineiro (6-7) went three-plus innings and was charged with four runs on five hits with a pair of walks and four strikeouts.

The loss dropped the Angels to three games back of Texas for first place in the AL West.

Hoping to get them a little closer tonight will be righty Jerome Williams, who is 3-0 with a 3.51 earned run average. Williams was brilliant in beating the Seattle Mariners on Wednesday, as he gave up just one hit - a solo home run - in eight innings.

"I'm more of a pitcher now," Williams said. "I trust my stuff. My cutter and sinker, keeping the ball down in good spots, that has been the big key for me. And my changeup has been moving a lot. I'm learning how to trust myself, trust my fastball. I'm using the cutter more. I still want to improve on it."

Williams has faced the A's three times and is 2-1 with a 3.26 ERA.

The A's will counter with right-hander Guillermo Moscoso, who came within four outs of a no-hitter his last time out. Moscoso carried a no-hitter against Kansas City into the eighth inning on Wednesday before Salvador Perez laced a two-out single. He picked up the win, surrendering two hits over 8 2/3 scoreless innings to improve to 8-8 to go along with a 3.34 ERA.

"You always want to go deep in the games," said Moscoso, who has allowed two or fewer earned runs in five of his last six starts. "You have to make quality pitches and work hard to try to go deep in the game."

Moscoso beat the Angels the last time he faced them, scattering three hits over six scoreless innings.