ANAHEIM -- Add Jerry Blevins to the A's list of unlikely heroes.

The left-handed reliever replaced Grant Balfour in the ninth inning Tuesday night with a one-run lead and the tying run on third base, and he recorded the final three outs to save a 6-5 victory over the Los Angeles Angels.

Balfour began the bottom of the ninth with a 6-3 lead, but he surrendered run-scoring singles to Torii Hunter and Albert Pujols that left runners on the corners with no outs.

A's manager Bob Melvin pulled Balfour, who walked off the field screaming at home plate umpire Paul Schrieber, and called on Blevins, a lanky lefty who had just one major league save in a career that began in 2007.

Blevins struck out Kendrys Morales on a nasty changeup and then got Howard Kendrick to hit into a game-ending 5-4-3 double play.

"You can't have a walk-off on the road, but that's the equivalent," Melvin said.

Blevins was thinking the same thing.

"I came in, and the first thing I said was, 'Where's my pie?' " Blevins joked, referring to the A's pie-in-the-face treatment typically given to the star of the game. "It was the perfect moment for a pitcher to get a little love."

The A's have seen unheralded rookie starting pitchers come through for them this season. They've seen journeymen such as Brandon Moss deliver in the clutch. Blevins has grown into a bigger bullpen role this season and been solid all year, but he acknowledged that Tuesday's save was the biggest moment of his career.

"I think that even trumps my debut," he said.

The A's (81-60) have won five straight and ran their road winning streak to 11, tied for the second-longest in Oakland history. They've also taken the first two of this four-game series and maintained a two-game lead over Baltimore for the top wild-card spot.

Rookie right-hander Dan Straily (2-0) pitched well for the A's in his fourth career start, going 62/3 innings and allowing three runs, including homers to Vernon Wells and Hunter.

The A's got a solo homer from Yoenis Cespedes and a two-run shot from Moss to help build a 4-2 lead. Hunter's homer off Straily in the seventh closed it to 4-3.

Coco Crisp increased the lead in exciting fashion in the top of the ninth, delivering an RBI triple and coming all the way around to score when Hunter misplayed the ball along the wall in right field for an error.

But Balfour found trouble in the ninth. Back-to-back walks to lead off the inning were a bad sign.

He thought he got squeezed some on the strike zone but added that after watching video, he did miss on some of the pitches he was upset about.

He stayed in the dugout and said he was Blevins' biggest fan.

  • The production from the bottom of the order has played a key in the A's success lately.

    No. 9 hitter Cliff Pennington is 15 for 33 over his past 10 games.

    Catcher George Kottaras, who hit seventh, Tuesday, has started four of the past five games and homered twice. He singled as part of a three-run fourth inning Tuesday.

    Shortstop Stephen Drew originally batted second upon arriving in an Aug. 20 trade from Arizona, but Melvin lately has been hitting him seventh or eighth, and Drew has picked it up at the plate in September.

    "It's huge," Pennington said of the production from the bottom third of the order. "Obviously, our middle of the lineup has hit really well this year. But we're still not a team that comes out there, 3-4-5, that's like New York or something. We've got to hit one through nine."

    That production has been important recently as the A's 3-4 hitters, Josh Reddick and Cespedes, have dipped offensively of late. Cespedes did snap a 21-game homerless drought with his solo shot in the second Tuesday.

  • Triple-A Sacramento manager Darren Bush has joined the A's through the rest of the regular season now that the River Cats' season is over. One of the players Bush watched on an everyday basis was Grant Green, the A's 2009 first-round pick who was drafted as a shortstop but has shifted to different positions.

    He began this year in center field but has also seen time at left field, shortstop, third base and second base. He'll concentrate on second base in the Arizona Fall League.

    Where does Bush think Green projects best?

    "I think he does a good job in left, he does a good job at second base, and he's played short a ton," Bush said. "He's just trying to create an opportunity for himself, wherever it may be. He's still going to have to learn as he goes. But he's smart enough to make adjustments."

  • Reliever Jordan Norberto (shoulder tendinitis) probably will start throwing soon, Melvin said. But he said time is running short on working Norberto back into the bullpen mix.

    For more on the A's, go to Joe Stiglich's blog at ibabuzz.com/athletics and follow him at twitter.com/joestiglich.

    Wednesday's game

    A's (A.J. Griffin 5-0) at L.A. Angels (Ervin Santana 8-11), 7:05 p.m., CSNCA

    A.L. Wild-Card race

    W L Pct. GB
    A's 81 60 .574 --
    Balt./N.Y. 79 62 .560 --
    Tampa Bay 77 64 .546 2
    L.A. Angels 77 65 .542 2½
    Detroit 74 67 .525 5
    Note: Top two teams earn wild-card berths.