Anderson almost perfect, but A's fall

Anderson almost perfect, but A's fall

OAKLAND -- Brett Anderson always is the coolest guy in the clubhouse. His emotions never lead him too high. He never gets too low. Brett is just Brett.

So when Bobby Abreu shot a single between third base and shortstop with two outs in the seventh inning to break up his perfect game, did Anderson let his feelings get to him? Even just for a second?

Not a chance.

The 21-year-old rookie promptly picked Abreu off first without so much as throwing another pitch, strolled to the dugout and took his seat.

Anderson threw eight innings of two-hit ball, striking out six and tossing 104 pitches before being removed. It wasn't enough, though. Abreu came back and hit a home run to right field off Andrew Bailey in the 10th inning to hand the Angels a 1-0 win on Sunday.

"It was one of the best starts I've seen," A's manager Bob Geren said. "He was outstanding [when he threw his two-hit shutout July 6] in Boston, and was equally good, if not better, today. He had all his pitches going and made real good pitch selection."

Bailey picked a poor time to surrender his first run since June 10. The All-Star had thrown 15 1/3 scoreless frames over his past 13 appearances.

"I made a bad pitch, and he hit it a long way," Bailey said. "You just have to tip your cap and make the pitch the next time. ... I was trying to throw him a fastball away, but I left it out over the plate."

Dallas Braden, Trevor Cahill and Vin Mazzaro combined to go 12 2/3 innings in Oakland's first three games after the All-Star break -- not exactly the kind of workload you want to hand your bullpen when embarking on a franchise-record 28-day stretch without an off-day.

Enter Anderson.

The lefty, who has a 21-inning shutout streak going, is 2-0 with a 0.34 ERA (one earned run in 26 1/3 innings) over his past four starts. Opponents are hitting .124 during that stretch.

Anderson said he was a little disappointed when he lost the perfect game, but he was more focused on trying to throw another scoreless inning with the way Angels starter John Lackey was going.

"I mean, it's every kid's dream to throw a no-hitter or perfect game in the big leagues," Anderson said.

"We were just looking at each other like, 'Man, this is some of the best stuff I've ever seen,'" Bailey said.

Overshadowed by Anderson's bid for perfection, Lackey was spinning a gem of his own. The Halos ace went nine innings, allowing three hits while walking one and striking out six to earn the win. Brian Fuentes pitched the 10th to earn his 28th save, tops in the Major Leagues.

"It was a well-pitched game by him," Geren said of Lackey. "We had more chances than they did; they just had the one swing."

The A's had a couple opportunities early on, but they were unable to cash in. Scott Hairston found his way to second and third base, respectively, with two outs in the first and fourth innings.

Oakland had another chance -- and a world of momentum on its side -- in the ninth.

Adam Kennedy led off the inning with a single up the middle. He advanced to second on an Orlando Cabrera sacrifice bunt and moved to third when Hairston grounded to short. Matt Holliday fouled out near first base to end the threat.

"It was fun," Lackey said. "I always like getting into these [duels]. That kid's good. He's got some great stuff and is going to be around for a long time."

A day removed from committing a season-high four errors in what Geren called "one of the worst games of the year," the Oakland defense rebounded by making play after play behind Anderson.

"They were tremendous," Anderson said. "They saved me a few times."

"Yesterday was just a fluke day," Geren said. "Kennedy made a couple plays that reminded me of Eric [Chavez]. Jason Giambi made some nice plays. Mark Ellis did, too, but you get used to those."

Adam Loberstein is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.