ANAHEIM -- A's fans surely aren't too fond of C.J. Wilson, not after the pitcher ripped them last year.
But Wilson just might have won them back, at least for one night anyway.
Now an Angel, the southpaw proved rather gracious during his six innings on the mound Thursday, which included his own throwing error that led to two runs, half of the A's final total in their third straight win, a 4-2 decision that secured them the series victory in Anaheim.
It was just last May when Wilson accused the A's of playing "lawyer ball," complaining that their hitters don't swing, and instead let the umpires decide the game. His comments, of course, came on the heels of a four-walk outing in a loss to Oakland.
On Thursday, Wilson issued three free passes, and all three runners scored. In fact, the A's ended their night with as many walks as hits, a reflection of an unproven offense that will have to rely on multiple ways to cross home plate this season.
Oakland's first walk was awarded to Seth Smith in the second, and Kurt Suzuki quickly capitalized on the opportunity with an RBI double to give the A's an early 1-0 advantage. An unraveled Wilson helped Oakland extend that lead to four in the fourth, when he issued consecutive walks to Yoenis Cespedes and Jonny Gomes, before making an errant throw on Smith's ensuing ground ball that brought home two runs.
"C.J.'s tough on us, and it's nice to finally break through and beat him," manager Bob Melvin said. "We had to do it in a little bit of an unorthodox fashion. That was the key play of the game. It gave us some momentum, and we were able to hold on with good pitching."
"It was a fairly easy play," Wilson said. "I just tried to make an easy throw, but I took it too easy and threw it short. It wasn't a short-arm, it was just kind of a changeup, just tried to lob it in there. It just didn't get there."
The A's weren't done, as Wilson proceeded to offer up a one-out RBI base hit to Kila Ka'aihue.
It was just four days ago the A's departed Seattle having dropped two of the first three games of their first road trip, making the series in Southern California appear all the more daunting, given the threat that is a well-built Angels team. But Los Angeles has appeared anything but in the early going, allowing Oakland to snag three wins and return to the Bay Area with a 4-3 road showing.
The A's are 7-7, while the Angels are 4-9 and seven games back of division-leading Texas.
"To come in and beat this team after losing two of three in Seattle, and to lose the first game here and come back and win the next three, it shows how tough some of these guys are," Melvin said. "We had illnesses and a lot of things going against us, but to take three, we'll take it every time."
Starter Tommy Milone, pitching in front of nearly 60 friends and family members, wasn't at his best, particularly in a 31-pitch fourth inning that resulted in two Angels runs, but that's all he would allow over the course of five frames, before handing the ball over to a bullpen that stole the show.
Right-hander Fautino De Los Santos struggled in the sixth, putting runners on first and third with no outs for Jordan Norberto, who garnered three quick outs without allowing a run to score.
And in the seventh, with Ryan Cook on the mound, Albert Pujols hit a one-out double -- his third of the night -- and Torii Hunter walked behind him, but Cook got Vernon Wells to fly out lazily to right field, then struck out Mark Trumbo to keep the Angels off the board again.
Brian Fuentes pitched a scoreless eighth frame, and Grant Balfour did the same in the ninth, securing his fourth save in as many opportunities.
"The bullpen was terrific," Melvin said. "We feel like we have a pretty good handle on who our 7-8-9 guys are going to be, but it's when we have the lead before that time, when we're still trying to figure things out. But Norberto was terrific. That was as good a performance as we had today."
The left-hander kept it simple.
"Just try to do my job, throw strikes and let it happen," Norberto said. "Try to control the running game and slow the game down. We gotta be ready for any situation. That's going to happen sometimes. We have to be prepared."
Added Milone: "They came in and just shut the door."
In doing so, the bullpen preserved Milone's second win. The young southpaw's ERA stands at a tidy 2.84 after three starts, his most recent being a memorable one.
"It feels great to come back home and pitch well," he said. "You want to pitch well for them and for the team. It's important to come back and, first game being able to pitch close to home, to do well and to get a win for the team and for the people that came out to support."