ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Although Trevor Cahill rarely struggles against the Los Angeles Angels, the sinkerballer couldn't even keep up with Ervin Santana in the latest loss for the plummeting Oakland Athletics.
Torii Hunter and Alberto Callaspo hit back-to-back homers, Santana allowed one run in six solid innings, and Los Angeles sent the A's to their seventh loss in eight games, 4-1 on Wednesday night.
The Angels beat Oakland's ace with an unlikely power burst in the fifth inning for a team with just seven homers in its previous 16 games.
Cahill (6-2) couldn't recover from Los Angeles' three-run fifth, and the Oakland offense couldn't bail him out.
"I kind of felt out of whack the whole game," said Cahill, who failed to join Boston's Jon Lester as the AL's only seven-game winners. "I knew I was a little off, so I just went out there and kept throwing. I didn't throw my changeup as much because I didn't have a good one coming in."
After five consecutive victories, the right-hander yielded 10 hits for the second time in three straight winless starts. Cahill walked five while struggling through six innings.
"Cahill is one of the best pitchers in the American League right now, and for us to come in and drive the ball and hit holes is good," Hunter said. "He made some mistakes, and he doesn't make many. You have to show some power, because some pitchers can get comfortable if it always takes three or four hits to get a run."
Cahill had given up just four homers all season before Hunter and Callaspo connected. Willits was 0 for 13 to start the season before his double later in the fifth scored Mark Trumbo.
Cahill had won his past three starts against the Angels, but he's stumbling for the first time in an otherwise stellar season — just when the A's could have really used a win streak after snapping a six-game skid Tuesday night.
"After a solid game last night, we came out today expecting to keep the momentum going, but Santana didn't let us do that," A's manager Bob Geren said. "We didn't hit a ton of balls hard, and the ones we did in the eighth inning, every one of them was right at somebody. It's a tough task to win with one run."
Reggie Willits' first hit of the season was a run-scoring double for the Angels, and Peter Bourjos added an RBI single. Los Angeles has won two of three in the four-game series with its upstate AL West rivals.
Santana (3-4) yielded six hits and two walks in his second straight victory after winning just once in his first nine starts.
Santana improved to 13-3 with a 1.97 ERA in his career against Oakland, even if he needed 117 pitches to do it.
"I was usually behind in the count, and I worked real hard to get the win," Santana said. "It was a little difficult because I got in a lot of 3-2 counts — too many foul ball, foul ball, foul ball. ... You're talking about one of the best sinkerballers in the game (in Cahill). He didn't have his 'A' game, but it's very exciting to beat him in a game like tonight."
Jordan Walden pitched the ninth for his 10th save in 13 chances.
Coco Crisp had an RBI double in the fifth for the A's, who have lost seven of eight amid scattered locker-room dissatisfaction with Geren.
Santana mostly avoided trouble, but got help from his defense at a key point.
Crisp's double in the fifth inning drove home Andy LaRoche, but Alexi Amarista's relay throw allowed catcher Hank Conger to tag out Cliff Pennington at the plate, keeping the game tied at 1 before the Angels' three-run rally in the bottom half of the inning.
"I don't know if it's so much that we're pressing, because we haven't really hit the ball that great all year," Oakland's Ryan Sweeney said. "I think once everyone starts hitting, then we'll be able to take it to that next level. ... I don't know if it's frustrating, because it's not like it just started happening."
In the eighth, Amarista made a nifty diving stop at second base of Sweeney's grounder, with his throw barely beating Sweeney to end the inning. Amarista had two hits, snapping an 0-for-17 skid.
Geren called a 15-minute team meeting before the game, possibly to discuss communication issues in the wake of reliever Brian Fuentes' critical comments about Geren earlier in the series.
Former Oakland closer Huston Street, now with Colorado, added to the drama by telling the San Francisco Chronicle that Geren was a poor communicator and his "least favorite person I have ever encountered in sports."
"I don't think it's my place to comment on somebody on another team," Geren said of Street.
NOTES: Los Angeles has beaten Oakland in 10 of their last 12 meetings at Angel Stadium. ... Angels C Hank Conger snapped an 0-for-14 skid with a second-inning single. ... Cahill allowed back-to-back homers for just the second time in his career.