ANAHEIM -- The almost inexplicable collapse of the A's went to another level Saturday in a 2-0 loss to the first-place Los Angeles Angels, a team that used nothing but its bullpen to shut out the highest-scoring offense in the game.
Yes, the A's still lead the major leagues in runs scored. But in a 12-16 August that ends with Sunday afternoon's series finale, they've been shut out four times, including the last two nights, and have scored three runs or fewer 18 times.
Oakland, 78-57 and four games behind the Angels (82-53) in the American League West, has not scored in its last 22 innings. The back-to-back shutouts are the A's first since May 30-June 1, 2012.
"We're playing pretty terrible baseball here as of late,'' catcher Derek Norris said. "And we're still competing in games. A lot of people like to talk that we've lost three games here going into tomorrow, but we've played pretty (crummy) baseball offensively and defensively, and we're still in all these games.
"I think (the Angels) know it, too, and people who know baseball and really watch baseball. So I mean we're not putting any offense together right now, which is tough. We're playing very mediocre baseball, but we're still competing in games. That says what type of baseball club we are.''
It says plenty about how good the A's starting pitching is. Sonny Gray had one bad inning Thursday, giving up three runs, but gave up nothing after that in a 4-3 loss in 10 innings. Jon Lester had a shutout going Friday until Chris Iannetta's homer on a ball that was almost caught by Coco Crisp, the center fielder getting injured on the play.
And Saturday starter Jeff Samardzija gave up two runs, one earned, on four hits. And if his defense had supported him in the slightest, he would have thrown eight shutout innings.
The offense is giving the pitchers no support, and the defense, which has made errors in six straight games and has committed 22 in the last 25 games, hasn't been useful, either.
Asked how the morale in the clubhouse is, third baseman Josh Donaldson said everything that has been said before is still true.
"I think it's pretty obvious,'' Donaldson said when asked about the morale. "If I had the answer, we wouldn't be struggling.''
On Saturday, the Angels, their starting rotation ravaged by injuries, used eight pitchers -- seven relievers and a minor league starter who pitched in relief -- and the A's couldn't hit any of them. Donaldson had two hits, one of which hit in the dirt in front of home plate and went maybe 15 feet. Everybody else combined for one hit, that by Sam Fuld leading off the ninth.
The Angels gave Oakland one chance when the A's loaded the bases with one out in the fourth with the aid of a throwing error by catcher Hank Conger, but all pinch-hitter Jonny Gomes could produce was a routine grounder that went for an inning-ending double play.
Gomes, one of the architects of the A's run to the pennant in 2012, has five RBIs in 17 games since coming to the A's, and a hit there would have made the trade of Yoenis Cespedes to the Red Sox for Lester and Gomes look better. But August has been brutal for the A's, including the newcomers.
The A's have left the bases loaded five times in the last four games, with Gomes, Josh Reddick, Stephen Vogt and Norris (twice) doing the damage.
The A's defense gave the Angels one chance when second baseman-turned-shortstop Eric Sogard muffed a grounder hit by Howie Kendrick in the bottom of the fourth, and Erick Aybar delivered a single to produce the first run. A second run scored on Samardzija's wild pitch, which he called "the pitch I really wanted back.''
"A 1-0 game is a lot different than a 2-0 game,'' he said.
It would be most of the time, but not for a team that hasn't scored in 22 innings.
A's (Scott Kazmir 14-6) at L.A. Angels (Matt Shoemaker 13-4), 12:35 p.m. CSNCA
A.L. WEST RACE
Team W L GB
Angels 82 53 --
A's 78 57 4.0