A's Lose Opening Game to Angels

Oakland Athletics
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Joe Saunders filled in for John Lackey quite nicely.

Saunders pitched into the seventh inning and Howie Kendrick homered and singled in another run, leading the Los Angeles Angels to a 3-0 win over the Oakland Athletics on Monday night.

With Lackey sidelined by a sore right elbow, Saunders yielded three hits over 6 2-3 innings in his first opening-day assignment.

Saunders, whose 17-7 record was the Angels' best last season, and Jered Weaver are the only two regulars in Los Angeles' rotation. Lackey, Ervin Santana and Kelvim Escobar all are on the disabled list and expected to miss at least the first month.

Jose Arredondo, Scot Shields and newcomer Brian Fuentes combined to finish the three-hitter. Fuentes, signed during the offseason to replace Francisco Rodriguez, set the A's down in order in the ninth to earn his first save for Los Angeles.

Matt Holliday and Eric Chavez singled in the second inning and former Angels shortstop Orlando Cabrera led off the sixth with a double for Oakland's only hits.

The mostly red-clad sellout crowd of 43,220 gave Saunders (1-0) a standing ovation when he left the game after retiring the first two batters in the seventh, running his pitch count to 93. Arredondo got the final out of the inning and Shields pitched a 1-2-3 eighth.

The shutout was the Angels' first in an opener since 1978 - when they beat the A's 1-0. Oakland was blanked for the third time in its last five season-opening games.

Dallas Braden, up and down between Oakland and the minors the past two seasons, allowed three runs and nine hits in six innings.

The 25-year-old Braden (0-1) was making just his 25th big league start. He drew the opening-day assignment because staff ace Justin Duchscherer is coming back from arthroscopic elbow surgery.

Kendrick and Vladimir Guerrero had RBI singles in the third, and Kendrick drove a 2-1 pitch from Braden over the wall in right-center in the fifth.

The Angels have won the AL West four of the past five years and are coming off a 100-win season that was the best in the majors, although they again lost to Boston in the first round of the playoffs.

Los Angeles finished spring training with a 26-8 record that also was baseball's best.

The Angels started off with a win for the fifth time in six years, losing the opener 3-2 at Minnesota last season.

The Athletics, slipping since they won the West in 2006, went 75-86 last year to finish third in the division behind Texas.

Oakland hasn't won a season opener since a 5-4 victory over Texas five years ago. The A's have opened on the road four of the past five seasons - they were the "home" team in Tokyo last year, a 6-5, 10-inning loss to Boston.


Holliday became the 10th different opening-day starter in left field for the A's in as many years.

Saunders is the first left-hander to get the nod for the Angels on opening day since Jarrod Washburn in 2002. They went on to win their only World Series that season.

Los Angeles CF Torii Hunter will receive his eighth consecutive Gold Glove before Tuesday night's game.