By Rick Eymer
OAKLAND — Derek Norris asks for pinch-hitting advice from Oakland hitting coach Chili Davis and other veterans who have played in the NL.
That assistance paid off on Saturday as Norris had a pinch-hit two-run home run in the bottom of the seventh inning in the Athletics’ 3-1 victory over the Los Angeles Angels.
“It does take a little different mindset,” Norris said after getting his first career pinch hit in 17 at-bats. “It’s not an easy thing to do. Relievers are so good these days you want to be aggressive and look for something early in the count.”
Jed Lowrie also drove in a run for the A’s, who won their second straight and five of seven overall. Coco Crisp added two hits.
“That’s just the way we play baseball,” Norris said. “There’s no one guy like a (Miguel) Cabrera or a Chris Davis. We have a group of guys who can put together things.”
Tommy Milone (9-8) allowed four hits over seven innings, allowing one run. He walked four and struck out six.
“I felt good, minus the four walks,” Milone said. “I’d like to think that’s not the type of pitcher I am. Fortunately none of them scored. It was nice to get through.”
Josh Hamilton hit a booming home run for the Angels, who lost their second straight and five of seven overall.
Grant Richards, making his first start since April 30, pitched five shutout innings. He gave up three hits, walked two and struck out four.
“I was just going to go out there and try not to overthrow,” Richards said. “Strike one was a big priority for me.”
Ryan Cook pitched the eighth and Grant Balfour got the final three outs for his 28th save in 29 chances.
Richards, who came out of the bullpen in his past 26 appearances, gave up seven runs in 5 2-3 innings in his last start, also against the A’s.
“It started off a little fuzzy, with him trying to find his release point,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “Once he did, he pitched a strong game.”
Scott Downs (2-3) entered the game in the seventh after Dane De La Rosa got Chris Young to hit into a fielder’s choice. The A’s countered with Norris, who promptly delivered his first career pinch hit, a two-run shot into right field bleachers that put the A’s ahead.
“Not by any means do I have it figured out,” Norris said. “Today it worked.”
Downs allowed his first run in 30 appearances, one short of tying the Angels club record.
“I can’t remember the last time Downs gave up a home run,” Scioscia said. “You like the matchup with his sinker and hopefully he can get the double play ball.”
After getting an out, Crisp singled and scored when Lowrie doubled off the right field wall, ending Downs day.
Hamilton’s home run with one out in the second put the Angels ahead 1-0.
Milone allowed three runs or more (5.79 ERA) in each of his six previous starts. The four hits matched his season low.
“He gives up a home run right away and then he hangs in there,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “The next thing you know, he gives us seven innings. We needed him to go seven based on our offense.”
Notes: Angels DH Albert Pujols returned to Los Angeles to have his sore left foot evaluated. He aggravated the injury running out a single in the ninth inning of Friday’s game. … RHP Tommy Hansen (4-2, 4.75) starts Sunday’s series finale for the Angels. It will be his second start since returning from the DL. Hansen is 2-0 in three road starts. … RHP Jarrod Parker (6-6, 3.79) makes the start for the Athletics on Sunday. He’s 4-0 with a 2.17 ERA over his past 10 starts. He has a no-decision in each of his past five starts. … A’s LHP Brett Anderson threw a 51-pitch bullpen session, with a break in the middle. … The Angels had won the past 14 games in which Hamilton recorded an RBI. … The A’s and Angels participated in a Throwback Day to 1969, which included Country Joe McDonald, of Woodstock fame, singing the national anthem.