OAKLAND -- Derek Norris provided a much-needed jolt of energy to the A's offense, delivering a two-run, pinch-hit home run in the seventh inning to pace a 3-1 victory over the Los Angeles Angels on Saturday afternoon.
With a crowd of 32,333 on hand, Norris brought the energy back to the Coliseum with his first career pinch-hit homer. It was also the first pinch hit of any kind in his major league career.
"We all know that I haven't had the most success pinch-hitting in my career," said Norris, who was 0 for 12 before that at-bat. "Talking to some of the guys, sometimes it takes a different mindset."
That new mindset was to attack early against Angels reliever Scott Downs, who took the mound with 42 appearances against the A's without suffering a loss.
Downs features a heavy sinker and with Chris Young at first base and one out, the left-hander was looking for a double play with his team holding a 1-0 lead.
But Downs (2-3) left a first-pitch fastball right over the plate, and Norris jumped on it for his seventh home run of the year. It was the first homer allowed this season by Downs, snapping a streak of 29 straight scoreless outings.
A's manager Bob Melvin has been platooning his catchers this season, even with John Jaso on the disabled list with a concussion. Three A's catchers have homered in the past four games.
That includes rookie Stephen Vogt's homer Friday. He was in the lineup again Saturday against Angels right-hander Garrett Richards. But when the lefty Downs entered, Melvin made the countermove despite Norris' pinch-hitting struggles.
"D-No has the ability to be a front-line starter, a guy that can hit right-handed and left-handed pitching," Melvin said of Norris. "He's swinging the bat well."
The A's added another run in the seventh when Coco Crisp singled and scored on Jed Lowrie's double.
That helped reward Tommy Milone with his ninth win of the season.
Ryan Cook pitched a scoreless eighth, and closer Grant Balfour worked a perfect ninth for his 28th save of the season.
Milone (9-8) struggled with his command, walking a season-high tying four. His pitch count was at 89 through five innings, but he muscled through seven innings of one-run, four-hit ball.
Melvin was happy to see him rewarded with the victory.
"You really do pull for at least getting one run and getting him off the hook," Melvin said. "Then the next thing you know we've got the lead, and it really rewards a guy that's pitched really well."
Milone said his stuff felt good but that he just made a few location mistakes that led to the walks.
The seventh-inning rally, though, made him feel a lot better about his performance.
"I was just trying to go out there and keep our team in the game because we have the lineup and the guys to get it done," Milone said. "Luckily we did. Better late than never."
"It was good," Anderson said. "Going into it I felt like there wouldn't be any problems, but you never know how you're going to react to sitting."
The next step is likely for Anderson to throw a simulated game. The team will wait until Sunday to see how Anderson feels, then come up with a plan for the next step.
He flew to Southern California to be evaluated, and manager Mike Scioscia didn't rule out a trip to the D.L.
Follow Jimmy Durkin at Twitter.com/Jimmy_Durkin.
L.A. Angels (Tommy Hanson 4-2) at A's (Jarrod Parker 6-6), 1:05 p.m. CSNCA