ANAHEIM -- Between his offense and his defense, Josh Donaldson is in the middle of making himself an American League All-Star.

Monday night won't go down on the highlight reel he's putting together as the A's 4-1 loss to the Los Angeles Angels saw Donaldson go hitless in four at-bats and make three throwing errors.

Donaldson is hitless in his last 15 at-bats since a first-inning homer Friday in Baltimore, dragging his batting average down to .266. And he has made a dozen errors despite building the reputation as one of the league's premier defensive players.

It was, he said, "just one of those nights." And so it was for the A's, who saw the top four men in the batting order go a combined 0 for 15 against Angels starter Garrett Richards and the bullpen as the 39-25 Athletics saw their lead in the American League West over the Anaheim crew fall to 3½ games.

Donaldson picked up Hank Conger's bunt in the fifth inning of a game the A's trailed 2-1, threw it away, then saw Conger come around to score. The A's third baseman made another throwing error later in the same inning, bouncing it past Alberto Callaspo at first base.

In the ninth, Donaldson skipped another one past the 5-foot-9 Callaspo, although a more experienced and/or taller first baseman might have made the stop. Donaldson, ever the team player, wasn't throwing the blame at anyone else.

"It's just one of those things where it just kept building. The first one, I probably threw and it was unnecessary because Conger made a good bunt right there. I've got to put that one in my pocket.

"The second one, I'm trying not to let (Mike) Trout advance to third. I wound up throwing a cutter over there. The last one I did the exact opposite. It was one of those days. We'll try and leave it behind us, turn the page for tomorrow."

In the end, this one was more about Richards than about Donaldson's defense. Richards faced the A's in Oakland on May 30, gave up four runs before getting an out and five runs while getting just two outs before being lifted.

This time around, it seemed he might be in for a repeat when Richards missed with his first three pitches to Coco Crisp. But Richards rallied to get Crisp out, and the whole thing steamrolled. In seven innings, he allowed four hits and one run on a Stephen Vogt single in the second.

"The difference was Garrett was throwing strikes this time," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "The first time he was behind to everybody."

The A's wound up getting just five base runners.

Oakland starter Jess Chavez's command was suspect. He walked only one batter, but he hit two, and the walk and one of the hit batters accounted for the first two Angels runs.

"I was lucky to escape with only giving up three runs," Chavez said. "I had a couple of bad locations with runners on base. That's something I have to get back to working on. It's been my Achilles' heel the last three or four starts." Chavez has a nice 3.04 ERA for the year, but even with only two of the three runs scored off him Monday being earned, his ERA over his last four starts is 4.28. He's behind more hitters and giving up more hits, and he's not sure what the problem is.

"It could be mechanical," he said. "It doesn't feel like it, but I've got to go back and look (at video). It could be release point. It seems like something simple, nothing that I'm going to fret over."

  • Derek Norris, hit twice Sunday by the backswing of the Baltimore Orioles' Manny Machado, did not start Monday, but he said his head was clear and that he could have played if needed.

  • The A's caught a break when Trout's bid for a two-run homer was ruled an RBI double off the top of the right field wall in the fifth. Angels' manager Mike Scioscia was not lucky. He was ejected.

  • A's lefty Fernando Abad said he was "very surprised to be ejected" Sunday after throwing two inside pitches to Machado. "I know I didn't throw at him, so I don't think anything should happen," Abad said.

  • Angels' closer Ernesto Frieri struck out the side in the ninth for his 11th save, then apologized to the A's for saying the Angels were going to beat them in this series. "I hate to say this, but they have a little bit of extra luck," he said Sunday. "If you pay attention every play, it's stupid how the game goes their way."

    Tuesday's game
    A's (Drew Pomeranz 5-3) at L.A. Angels (Hector Santiago 0-6), 7:05 p.m. CSNCA