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OC Register: Angels overcome Shohei Ohtani’s rough inning on mound to beat A’s

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ANAHEIM — Shohei Ohtani can still manage to rise to the occasion, even on days when his electric pitch mix decides to betray him.

Despite a fourth inning on the mound that bordered on disaster, Ohtani pulled his outing together just in time Thursday afternoon to guide the Angels to an 8-7 victory over the Oakland Athletics, their third in a row.

A bout with fickle command is not new to Ohtani this season. It happened to him during an outing in Seattle on April 5 when he hit two batters and issued a walk in the third inning but escaped without allowing a run.

It happened again at home in his next outing when he issued five walks against the Washington Nationals, including two in the first inning, but did not allow a run over the outing. He hit a batter in that start too.

Until Ohtani’s most recent outing on Monday against the Kansas City Royals, he had walked the first batter of every start this season.

This time, Ohtani’s abilities as an escape artist were lacking. He not only walked two Oakland batters in the fourth inning, but he also hit two to go along with two wild pitches. The A’s scored five times in the frame, ending his Angels record of consecutive starts allowing two runs or less at 12. Ohtani gave up as many runs in the fourth as he had yielded in his previous 60 innings combined.

What saved the Angels on Thursday was the offense, with Ohtani even contributing in that area. The Angels had their own five-run inning in the third with Ohtani starting the scoring with an RBI double to left center.

Hunter Renfroe had a sacrifice fly for a run and red-hot Brandon Drury hit a three-run home run, his fourth of the four-game series, while also collecting a triple and a double.

But the A’s came right back and tied the score 5-5 against Ohtani with the Oakland rally starting when Esteury Ruiz was hit by a pitch. After time was called as Ohtani fidgeted with his PitchCom device, Ruiz stole second base and went to third on a wild pitch. Conner Capel walked and Brent Rooker hit a home run to right field.

The A’s scored twice more in the inning when Shea Langeliers hit a home run to center after Jace Peterson was hit by a pitch.

The last time Ohtani allowed at least five runs in a start was July 22 against the Atlanta Braves when he gave up six runs in 6–1/3 innings. All six came in the seventh inning of an 8-1 defeat.

Yet, as quickly as the game got away Thursday, Ohtani was able to rescue it. He did hit Aledmys Diaz with a pitch in the sixth inning but retired seven of the last eight batters he faced.

In his six innings of work, Ohtani (4-0) gave up five runs on three hits with two walks, eight strikeouts and a career-high three hit batters. Carlos Estevez pitched the ninth inning for his fifth save in five chances.

The Angels jumped back on top in the fifth inning on a bases-loaded walk to Luis Rengifo and an RBI ground out from Gio Urshela. An Ohtani triple with two outs in the sixth inning was followed by an RBI double from Anthony Rendon for an 8-5 advantage.

The A’s scored twice in the eighth inning against left-hander Jose Quijada, but the defense rose to the occasion with shortstop Gio Urshela throwing out Diaz at home and Rendon rising high at third base to field a chopper from Ruiz for the last out in the inning, preserving an 8-7 lead.

Ohtani came up in the eighth with a chance to complete his second career cycle, but his fly ball to the warning rack in center field was merely a long out instead of a three-run home run.

More to come on this story.

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