ANAHEIM -- Rookie right-hander Paul Blackburn tossed 6 2/3 scoreless innings and newly acquired catcher Dustin Garneau drove in a pair of runs in his A's debut to lead Oakland to a 5-0 shutout of the Angels on Saturday night at Angel Stadium.
With the win, the A's snapped their seven-game losing streak in Anaheim and evened their three-game series against the Angels, who saw their four-game win streak end. The Halos (55-56) dipped below .500 and fell 2 1/2 games behind the Royals for the second American League Wild Card spot. Kansas City's game against the Mariners on Saturday was postponed due to rain.
Blackburn held the Angels' hot offense to just five hits while walking none and striking out one, lowering his ERA to 2.60 over seven starts. The 23-year-old pitched into the seventh and retired the first two batters he faced before allowing a two-out single to Ben Revere. He departed with a 3-0 lead after throwing a career-high 112 pitches.
"He's been about as consistent as anybody we've had," A's manager Bob Melvin said of Blackburn. "He's a guy that you really look forward to getting on the mound now. You know defensively that he's going to throw strikes and he's going to put the ball in play and guys enjoy playing behind him."
Garneau, who was claimed off waivers from the Rockies on Friday, collected his first hit for the A's in the fourth, lining a two-run single that pushed Oakland's lead to 3-0. The A's later capitalized on throwing errors by Angels infielders Yunel Escobar and Kaleb Cowart to add a pair of runs in the sixth.
"That was fun," Garneau said of his A's debut. "Just a whirlwind of emotions going from club to a new club and trying to learn everybody and the pitching staff as fast as I can."
Angels left-hander Tyler Skaggs lasted only four innings in his first start in the Majors since April 28, surrendering three runs on six hits while walking two and striking out three in the 83-pitch outing. Skaggs was activated from the 60-day disabled list on Saturday after missing three months with an oblique strain.
"Tonight was not exactly what we needed, but before he lost the feel of his curveball, he made some really good pitches," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "Good velocity the whole night. So there are a lot of positives we can take away from this."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Rajai revs A's early: Rajai Davis wreaked some havoc for Skaggs in the first inning, opening the game with a first-pitch single and stealing second and third before scoring on a wild pitch to give the A's a quick 1-0 lead.
"When he's on the bases he creates havoc," Melvin said.
"He's had like seven stolen bases off me, so I don't know what his deal is," Skaggs said of Davis. "He knows me really well. It's frustrating. It's something I need to figure out. He reads me like a book."
Garneau comes through: Garneau padded the A's lead with a two-run, two-out single in the fourth. Skaggs retired the first two batters he faced but then fell into trouble after Chad Pinder doubled, Matt Chapman walked and Mark Canha singled to load the bases. Garneau capitalized by dumping 2-2 curveball into left field, knocking in a pair of runs and making it 3-0. More >
The Athletics challenged a call in the fourth, after the club thought first baseman Ryon Healy beat out Escobar's throw to first. The throw moved Angels first baseman Luis Valbuena off the bag for a split second, prompting the challenge. After a review, the original call on the field stood and Healy was called out.
WHAT'S NEXT Athletics: Oakland closes out its three-game series against the Angels with lefty Sean Manaea on the mound Sunday. The southpaw is 8-6 on the year, with a team-low 3.88 ERA. First pitch is slated for 12:37 p.m. PT.
Angels: The Angels will send right-hander Ricky Nolasco (5-12, 4.90 ERA) to the mound on Sunday as they close out their three-game series with the A's at Angel Stadium. Nolasco is 4-3 with a 3.26 ERA in 10 career starts against Oakland.