Zack Greinke helps Angels' playoff push with win over A's

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Zack Greinke is settling in as a key member of the Angels' rotation, just as Los Angeles is making a serious push in the playoff chase.

The timing couldn't be better for manager Mike Scioscia's ballclub.

Greinke pitched seven sharp innings to win his third consecutive start and the Angels beat the Oakland Athletics 6-1 on Tuesday night.

"You could see it coming his last couple of starts, just finding the release point," Scioscia said. "He did a great job of commanding the counts better. I thought he threw the ball exceptionally well tonight."

Greinke (4-2) scattered four hits, struck out four and walked two in his most recent gem.

Since beginning his Los Angeles career with two losses in five starts following a July 27 trade from Milwaukee, Greinke has settled into a groove. He's yielded four runs over his past 21 2/3 innings and has gone at least seven innings in each of his past three starts.

That's a far cry from the last time he pitched in Oakland on Aug. 8, when he was tagged for four runs in five innings. Greinke's only noticeable mistake this time came in the seventh, when he allowed a leadoff homer to Brandon Moss.

"I forgot about that, actually," Greinke said. "The Oakland game here, I was throwing all sinkers and that's not really my game. Then I was trying to throw too hard the next two starts. So just trying to go back to normal, and it worked out good."

Scott Downs pitched the eighth and Jason Isringhausen worked the ninth to complete the four-hitter for the Angels, who remained 3 1/2 games out of a wild-card spot in the American League. Los Angeles has won four of five on its six-game road trip and 11 of 14 overall.

Kendrys Morales had three hits and an RBI.

Moss' home run was one of the few bright spots for the A's, who have dropped two straight to the Angels following a nine-game winning streak. Oakland, tied for the wild-card lead, is four games behind first-place Texas in the AL West and 3 1/2 ahead of the third-place Angels.

"It wasn't a horrible pitch to Moss. ... He just stayed inside it and he's a good low-ball hitter and he hit it out," Oakland manager Bob Melvin said. "Other than that, we didn't get too many good swings."

The Angels put runners on base early against starter Jarrod Parker (9-8) but didn't break through until the fifth.

Alberto Callaspo and Chris Iannetta singled to put runners on the corners with one out before Mike Trout hit a first-pitch single up the middle. That gave Trout, a leading contender for AL MVP and Rookie of the Year, 75 RBIs.

Los Angeles opened the sixth with consecutive singles by Morales and Howie Kendrick. Both runners moved up on a sacrifice, and Morales scored on Callaspo's sacrifice fly to make it 2-0.

Greinke didn't need much else.

He worked out of a two-on, two-out jam in the first, stranded a runner at second in the third and retired 16 of 18 until Moss homered in the seventh. It was Moss' 16th home run this season and fourth in the past eight games.

Greinke also got some help from the Angels' defense when Trout ran down Josh Reddick's deep fly to center in the sixth.

Parker, who also lost to the Angels in his previous start at the Oakland Coliseum on Aug. 6, didn't pitch poorly but had nothing to show for it after going seven innings. He struck out Torii Hunter three times, had five strikeouts overall and didn't walk a batter for the second time this season.

The Angels added a pair of insurance runs in the eighth off reliever Sean Doolittle, then scored two more in the ninth -- one on a double by Morales.

Game notes
Greinke has allowed at least one home run in seven straight starts, the longest streak of his career. ... Albert Pujols doubled in the first to extend his hitting streak to 13 games. The Angels' slugger needs six doubles to reach 500. ... The A's recalled RHP Jim Miller from Class A Stockton before the game. It is Miller's fifth stint with the big league club this year. ... Angels RHP Dan Haren (9-10) tries to snap a three-game losing streak to his former club when he pitches in the series finale Wednesday. RHP Brandon McCarthy (8-5) goes for the A's. ... Reddick was selected AL player of the week after going 12-for-31 with three home runs and 10 RBIs.