ANAHEIM, Calif. -

Howie Kendrick turned out to be the hero for the Los Angeles Angels on Thursday night -- unless Oakland A's manager Bob Melvin gets his way.

Kendrick's 10th-inning sacrifice fly to right field drove home Albert Pujols and gave the Angels a 4-3 win at Angel Stadium. However, Melvin and the A's filed a protest with the league office after the game based on an umpire's call on a strange play one inning earlier.

Angels shortstop Erick Aybar led off the bottom of the ninth with a chopper up along the first base line. Pitcher Dan Otero and first baseman Brandon Moss converged, then collided as Otero fielded the ball. At the same time, Aybar ran into Otero and fell down, appearing to be tagged out.

Plate umpire Greg Gibson ruled Aybar's path to the base was obstructed by Moss and awarded him first base. Melvin argued, then the four umpires met alone before sticking with the original call. Melvin said he was told by Gibson that Aybar has to have a clear lane to the base.

"One, he's way out of the baseline, and two, he went to try to make contact with the fielder," Melvin said of Aybar. "So, hopefully (the protest) it's upheld. I can't see from where I am how far out of the baseline he was and how he went after the fielder and made contact with him, but it was pretty evident."

Aybar said simply he had nowhere to run because both Otero and Moss were in his way.

"I tried to keep moving, get away, but two guys were in front of me," Aybar said.

As it turned out, the Angels didn't score in the inning, despite loading the bases with one out. Right fielder Kole Calhoun popped out and center fielder Mike Trout grounded into a force play, each missing a chance to be a hero.

Kendrick, though, took advantage of his opportunity to win it one inning later.

Pujols got the winning rally started with a leadoff walk against Oakland right-hander Ryan Cook. The Angels first baseman went to third on left fielder Josh Hamilton's single to center.

Kendrick fell behind Cook 0-2 before working the count full and driving the ball deep enough to score Pujols.

"I was really looking to hit that first pitch, but I kind of froze on it," Kendrick said. "Then I swung at a high pitch. Once it gets to two strikes, it's about battling and trying to get anything you can handle. He left one up, and I was able to drive one to right."

The win moved the Angels (80-53) two games ahead of the A's (78-55) in the American League West, matching their biggest lead of the season. Each team has 29 games remaining, including six more against each other.

Fernando Salas (5-0), the last of five Angels relievers, earned the victory by pitching a scoreless top of the 10th.

Kendrick and Hamilton each had two hits for the Angels, while third baseman Josh Donaldson and center fielder Coco Crisp had two hits apiece for the A's. Donaldson homered in the sixth inning.

Angels starter C.J. Wilson gave up three runs on seven hits and three walks in 5 2/3 innings, but he was unable to hold a 3-0 lead.

"My location just kind of went away," Wilson said. "I was hitting spots the first couple innings, and after that it was a bit of a battle. I don't know if it was something I was doing wrong or if the ball was moving too much. I was very close, but I was not throwing strikes to get ahead in the count, and it burned me."

A's starter Sonny Gray worked his way through some rough innings early on, but he managed to go seven, allowing three runs on six hits and three walks, leaving the fate of the game to the bullpen.

"I thought he recovered really well," Melvin said. "He was having some issues with command early and then recovered beautifully and gave us seven innings. That's a sign of a true competitor. Maybe early on you don't have your best stuff, but you're able to recover and give us seven."

The Angels broke through against Gray in the second inning, getting consecutive singles from Hamilton, Kendrick and Aybar for a 1-0 lead. Third baseman Gordon Beckham capped the rally with a two-out, two-run single on an 0-2 pitch that put the Angels up 3-0.

The A's got two runs in the fifth to get close, then tied it on Donaldson's 26th homer leading off the sixth. However, the Oakland offense stopped there, as the Angels' relief corps of Mike Morin, Kevin Jepsen, Joe Smith, Huston Street and Salas shutting down A's the rest of the way.

"What are you going to do? You've got two good pitching teams and two evenly matched teams," Melvin said. "It was a great game, but obviously we didn't come out on the right end of it."

NOTES: Angels LHP Wade LeBlanc, designated for assignment Tuesday, cleared waivers and accepted an assignment to Triple-A Salt Lake. ... The Angels have not announced a starter for Saturday's game against the A's but are expected to choose either 38-year-old LHP Randy Wolf, who is currently at Salt Lake, or LHP Michael Roth, who is pitching for Double-A Arkansas. ... The A's flip-flopped their starters for the weekend, pushing LHP Scott Kazmir to Sunday and moving up RHP Jeff Samardzija to Saturday. Manager Bob Melvin said it was done to give Kazmir an extra day of rest. ... The A's optioned LHP Drew Pomeranz to Class A Beloit and recalled RHP Evan Scribner from Triple-A Sacramento. Pomeranz gave up one unearned run in 5 1/3 innings Wednesday against Houston but was replaced by Scribner so the club could have an extra arm in the bullpen for the series against the Angels.