ANAHEIM -- If the A's are going to live and die by the home run, at least they're picking their spots.

John Jaso's two-run pinch-hit bomb into the right field seats Monday gave Oakland a 3-2 win over the Los Angeles Angels in a game in which the A's were behind almost from the first pitch.

Jaso's homer off Angels closer Ernesto Frieri was part of a broader pattern of A's homers. It was the second of the game and the 14th in the season's first 13 games. Of the 14, seven have come in the eighth inning or later.

Coco Crisp won a 12-inning game with a walk-off homer April 3 against the Seattle Mariners. Derek Norris hit a three-run bomb in the 11th to win it April 9 in Minnesota.

Just on Sunday in Seattle, the A's got all their runs on late homers, a two-run blast by Yoenis Cespedes in the eighth inning and a solo shot by Josh Donaldson in the ninth.

And now Jaso's pinch-hit gem has the A's with a 9-4 record, the best in the American League. The club is in the middle of the pack in home runs hit but at the top of the charts in clutch performances.

"It's awesome; it's what we do, what we've done for the last three years," starting pitcher Jesse Chavez said. "We don't give up one through nine (in the batting order). We don't give up one through 25 (on the roster)."

Jaso not only hadn't hit a home run yet this season but also didn't have an RBI. So he could proudly raise his arms in the clubhouse and say "I'm on the board."


Advertisement

To get there, he had to turn on a 95-mph fastball from Frieri even though Jaso said his best guess was that the right-hander would throw him a changeup.

"I was thinking changeup, but when you get in the box, you always think 95 and adjust," he said. "He challenged me, and it was a pitch that was out over the plate. In that situation, you've got to be aggressive."

Chavez wasn't around by the time Jaso struck, but without the seven innings Chavez gave the A's -- two runs, one earned, no walks and nine strikeouts -- Jaso might never have been in position to deliver the game winner.

He was, and he delivered, although he acknowledged that he doesn't gear up for a pinch-hit at-bat the way some do. He's the ultimate in low-key cool, and he said he was just sitting on the bench not doing much of anything when he got the call.

"I may have had my hat on backwards, I don't know," Jaso said. "I try not to think about it too much. I just go up there and try to hit the ball as hard as I can."

He did, and it was something of a surprise to the 37,120 on hand in Angels Stadium, because the A's hadn't shown much of anything to that point. While Chavez was giving the A's seven good innings, the Oakland offense wasn't up to the challenge posed by Angels' lefty Hector Santiago.

Just the second lefty to start against the A's this season, Santiago was touched for a solo homer by Cespedes in the fourth inning but allowed only two other A's to get into scoring position.

Chavez allowed just four base runners, but that was enough to put him in a 2-1 hole after seven innings. Jim Johnson pitched a scoreless eighth to get the win, and Luke Gregerson, making his A.L.-high eighth appearance, pitched a 1-2-3 ninth for the save.

Gregerson's inning had its own bit of drama after Eric Sogard bobbled a ball at second base, then rushed a throw to first. Daric Barton caught the ball just as Howie Kendrick arrived at the base. The Angels challenged the call, but video replay didn't back them up.

  • With the homer, Jaso is now a .424 hitter in Angel Stadium, 28 for 66. He's come up twice as a pinch hitter and has doubled and homered.

  • Scott Kazmir reported to the ballpark feeling chipper and convinced he'd make his next scheduled start Saturday against Houston.

    Kazmir came out of his start Sunday in Seattle with left triceps discomfort after six innings, at which time he sat on the bench and was talking with manager Bob Melvin, pitching coach Curt Young and trainer Walt Horn on the bench, holding his left forearm.

  • Crisp came out of Sunday's game with left hamstring tenderness. He still had a touch of that Monday, but not so much that he couldn't take batting practice and do some running during the pregame workout. Melvin said after the game that Crisp's workout went well enough but that there was a chance he would be held out of Tuesday's game.

    Tuesday's game
    A's (Dan Straily 1-1) at L.A. Angels (Garrett Richards 2-0), 7:05 p.m. CSNCA
    Online extras
    For more on the A's, go to www.mercurynews.com/athletics