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A's open 2nd half with 4-1 loss to Angels

Saturday - 7/20/2013, 2:50am  ET

Oakland Athletics' Brandon Moss, right, slides into home plate to score on a double by Chris Young as Los Angeles Angels catcher Chris Iannetta, left, fields the throw during the ninth inning of a baseball game against the Los Angeles Angels on Friday, July 19, 2013, in Anaheim, Calif. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

BETH HARRIS
AP Sports Writer

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) -- A.J. Griffin gave up a career-high three home runs -- all solo shots -- in his second-shortest start of the season, and the first-place Oakland Athletics stumbled to open the second half of the season.

They lost 4-1 to the Los Angeles Angels on Friday night, but maintained a two-game lead over Texas, which also dropped its first game since the All-Star break.

"We looked like we've been off for a few days, and that's no excuse because the other team was going through the same thing we are," Oakland manager Bob Melvin said. "But we looked a little out of sync."

Griffin (8-7) lost for the first time since June 15 against Seattle, ending his three-game winning streak in his previous four starts. The right-hander gave up four runs and six hits in five innings, struck out four and walked one.

Griffin allowed homers to Albert Pujols, Erick Aybar and Mike Trout among his 88 pitches.

"I feel like I pitched pretty well today," Griffin said. "I gave up three home runs, but I felt like I was executing my pitches pretty well for the most part."

Jered Weaver (4-5) extended his scoreless-innings streak against Oakland to 24 2-3. He allowed four hits in 6 2-3 innings while striking out a season-high eight and walking four. The previous club record for scoreless innings against the A's was 21, by Bob Lee in 1964-65.

Last season, Weaver gave up a solo homer to Seth Smith over 30 2-3 innings while going 3-0 in four starts against the A's. Since 2011, the right-hander has dominated the A's with a 7-1 record in 10 starts.

"He did the same thing he always does: keeping guys off-balance, mixing his pitches, pitching around the zone and not throwing too many over the plate," Smith said. "You'd like to get runs off him, but sometimes that's not possible. But anytime you can get him out of there, you take a chance with their bullpen."

Ernesto Frieri earned his 23rd save in 25 chances on his 28th birthday.

The Angels, who finished under .500 at the break for the first time since 2006, gave manager Mike Scioscia his 1,200th career win. They snapped a three-game skid.

The Angels extended their lead to 4-0 in the fifth on homers by Aybar and Trout. Aybar led off the inning with his fourth of the season, while Trout's 16th went to left field.

Pujols, whose career .334 average in the second half of the season leads all active players, slugged his 16th homer with two outs in the third.

"It was just one slider too many in a row in that sequence," Griffin said. "He looked pretty uncomfortable on the first couple of sliders. But I left the last one up a little bit. I should have gone with something else, maybe a fastball in or something. But he's been around a while, and it wasn't his first home run."

Josh Hamilton's RBI double to right field got past a diving Josh Reddick. It scored J.B. Shuck, who reached on an infield single to third and continued to second on a throwing error by third baseman Josh Donaldson.

Oakland scored its lone run on a RBI double by Chris Young in the ninth off Kevin Jepsen.

Notes: Oakland LF Yoenis Cespedes, who won the Home Run Derby on Monday during All-Star festivities, was scratched just before the game with a sore left wrist. "It came up today in batting practice," Melvin said. "When he was taking some swings in the cage, he still felt it, so we pulled him out." Melvin said he didn't think it was related to the home run contest, and he won't know until Saturday if Cespedes can play. ... The A's have scored three runs or fewer in each of the past seven games. They're batting .167 with 13 runs scored in that span. ... The A's have a staff ERA of 3.45 at night, the lowest in the AL.


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