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Ross fires six scoreless innings

ANAHEIM -- Angel Stadium offers one of the more likable atmospheres in the league. More often than not, its crowd is loud and involved, which is one of the reasons Tyson Ross is drawn to it.

The A's right-hander equally enjoys watching the same crowd silenced. There was much of that on Monday, thanks to his doing.

Ross fired six dominant innings, and Josh Reddick's first-inning homer, the outfielder's team-leading ninth of the season, proved to be just the right dose of momentum to jump-start the A's to a series-opening win at Angel Stadium, a 5-0 decision that marks their Major League-leading fifth shutout.

Ross, who exited with just five hits and one walk with two strikeouts to his name, appears to be back on track, as the outing followed a three-run performance over 5 2/3 innings after he had given up a combined 16 runs in two previous starts.

The young righty has taken a liking to Angel Stadium, where he owns a 2.03 ERA spanning five career appearances, four of them starts. In that span, he's walked just three in 26 2/3 innings.

"I think it's just the mound here," Ross explained. "I feel like I'm right on top of the hitter. It's always fun when there's a good crowd out there, too, especially an opposing crowd."

The Angels, meanwhile, who not too long ago appeared poised to compete at the top of the American League West alongside Texas, have now been shut out eight times through 36 games, most in the Majors this season and in club history -- and twice by the surprisingly decent A's, winners of eight of their last 12 and 15 of their last 25.

"Rightfully so, they label it a two-team division with the two heavyweights, but we play for the day," manager Bob Melvin said. "We have a younger group here and try not to worry too much about that."

For Reddick, who tallied seven home runs through 89 games with Boston last year, his nine long balls are an ongoing career high. His most recent, coming on a 1-2 pitch against former Oakland hurler Dan Haren, gave the A's 33 on the season in their 36th game. Last year, it took them 60 contests to reach that same number.

May has been a productive month for Reddick, who is batting .313 with five home runs, 11 RBIs and 12 runs in 12 games since the calendar turned. Overall, he's hitting .289, which also ranks first among his teammates.

"He's settled nicely in the three-spot," Melvin said. "He's confident and feels comfortable in that spot, and he's a guy we lean on. You look at the production, and it really stands out."

The club's offensive output doubled in the fourth inning, when Seth Smith tallied the first of his two doubles -- he entered the night with two in his previous 32 games -- and, following a wild pitch that led him to third, scored on Josh Donaldson's sacrifice fly.

Smith, acquired in the offseason via a trade that sent starters Josh Outman and Guillermo Moscoso to Colorado, has recorded a hit in four of the last five games, with three multihit efforts. Not bad timing for a guy whose job, like others, could be in jeopardy upon Manny Ramirez's arrival, which is expected after month's end.

Smith is batting .351 over his last 11 games after posting a dismal .185 mark over his first 21 contests. Not coincidentally, he believes, the former numbers have mostly come in unison with starts in the outfield, rather than at the designated-hitter spot.

"I'm obviously in a better place than I have been, which isn't saying much, but I think I'm headed in the right direction," he said. "I've never DH'd before. You get thrown in the fire and kind of learn as you go. I thought it would be like pinch-hitting, because I did a lot of that in Colorado, but it turns out it's a lot different for whatever reason."

"This is what we envisioned from him," Melvin said. "We traded two starters for him, and we felt like he could really be a middle-of-the-order bat for us. Even when the average is down, he's still getting on base. And now he's getting his hits and driving in runs."

Smith's second two-bagger extended Oakland's lead by two in the next frame, all the while Ross kept the Angels off the board, stranding five on base during his tenure on the mound.

"He usually pitches well against us, but I thought we had great looks against him," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "I thought we hit a lot of balls hard, I thought we had opportunities early and we really squared some baseballs up, and had a chance to score runs if we found holes, but we didn't do it."

On the other side, Haren also went six, but he gave up four runs along the way on six hits and four walks, while fanning four.

Oakland's final run was produced by a pair who had been struggling. Donaldson, mired in a 0-for-17 slump, led off the eighth against right-hander Jason Isringhausen with a double. The A's third baseman then came around to score on a base hit off the bat of Kurt Suzuki, who entered the game just 2-for-17 over his past five games, before collecting a two-hit night to help out his battery mate.

"Another big step in the right direction," Ross said. "Any time you can gain momentum like that, especially after having a rough outing, you get some confidence and look forward to the next outing."

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