First-base umpire Greg Gibson probably deserves an assist, but he wasn't the one kicking routine grounders, throwing balls into the dugout or making Kendry Morales look like Albert Pujols on his best day.
It was Oakland that squandered a rare offensive explosion, wasted another fine outing from right-hander Brett Tomko and blew the five-run lead they took into the bottom of the sixth inning.
"It's tough," said Tomko, who was leading, 6-1, when he left the game after allowing four hits and a walk with five strikeouts over 5 2/3 innings. "The bad call at first base didn't help, but you can't give a team like that a couple extra outs."
The call to which Tomko referred came two batters after A's third baseman Adam Kennedy made his second error of the night, firing the ball into the Oakland dugout after picking up a routine grounder by Howard Kendrick to open the bottom of the seventh.
After Chone Figgins singled to right with one out off lefty Craig Breslow, who had taken over for Tomko in the sixth and allowed the third of Morales's four extra-base hits to make it 6-2, first baseman Daric Barton booted a broken-bat grounder off the bat of Bobby Abreu.
Barton recovered and fed the ball to Breslow, who made a sweeping tag on Abreu before their footrace to the bag came to an end. Gibson, however, called Abreu safe as Kendrick scored to further trim the lead.
"He didn't dispute that I tagged him," Breslow said of the ump. "He said [Abreu] was already on the base."
Replays said otherwise -- in a big way -- and Breslow held his hands about two feet apart to illustrate how far from the bag Abreu was when he was tagged.
"The replays," said A's manager Bob Geren, "clearly showed he was out."
Righty Brad Ziegler took over from there, and he got Torii Hunter to ground out. Had the A's gotten the call from Gibson, the inning would have been over.
Instead, it had to feel to Oakland fans as though it went on forever.
"It's frustrating," Ziegler said. "That [call] changed the whole inning."
Vladimir Guerrero dropped a two-run single into right, cutting the lead to one. Next, Juan Rivera reached on a swinging bunt that bounced off the plate.
And then came that man again. Morales, who had opened the scoring with a solo homer off Tomko in the second, yanked a three-run shot into the bleachers beyond right-center field.
"I made a pretty good pitch, a changeup down in the zone," Ziegler said. "He took a bad swing at it -- we had him way out in front. But he still found a way to get the barrel on it."
Not content with having taken the lead, the Angels piled on. Erick Aybar tripled, and Kendrick finished what he started with an RBI single. All seven runs in the inning were unearned.
"We made too many mistakes in the inning," Geren said. "You can't give a team with that kind of firepower extra outs."
Especially with Morales mashing everything in sight. His RBI single in the eighth gave him a career-high five hits (in five at-bats) and matched his career high of six RBIs.
"He's been what I consider their best player," Geren said. "He's got a lot of talent."
"Today was my day," Morales said.
"He's a good, quality hitter, and he had a great day," Tomko said. "He had a huge day."
Added Ziegler: "He's seeing the ball well. We have to make some adjustments."
The A's seemed to be seeing the ball pretty well themselves Friday. They batted around in the third, getting a two-run single from Kurt Suzuki, a sacrifice fly by Jack Cust and a two-run homer from Scott Hairston. Kennedy padded the lead with a fourth-inning single after Barton doubled and moved to third on a passed ball.
Kennedy, Suzuki, Rajai Davis, Ryan Sweeney and Cliff Pennington each had two of Oakland's 13 hits, and Suzuki finished with three RBIs, but none of that was of much solace in the church-quiet clubhouse after the game.
"It was all one inning," Geren said.
"Everything," Ziegler offered, "just kind of fell apart."