Gaudin gives Angels the cold shoulder
Allows four hits over 7 2/3, backed by Crosby's three-run homer
OAKLAND -- While the 20,174 hardy souls who braved the biting winds at McAfee Coliseum on Tuesday were rewarded with bright yellow fleece blankets to keep them warm, A's righty Chad Gaudin's biting fastball put the Angels' offense in a deep freeze while Bobby Crosby finally showed signs of heating up.
Backed by Crosby's first home run since July 18 and working at a pace as brisk as the 20-mph winds that dropped the wind-chill factor to 40 degrees for most of the night, Gaudin (1-0) held the Halos to four hits over 7 2/3 innings as Oakland won for the third time in four games, 4-1.
"That's the coldest I've ever been on the field," Crosby said.
He was talking about the weather, but could have been talking about his performance this season prior to Tuesday's game.
Crosby, who missed 52 games last year with a back strain, entered the game batting .167 with one RBI overall and mired in a 3-for-25 (.120) slump since leaving an April 6 game in Anaheim with back spasms. He also had made four errors in his first 11 games.
But on Tuesday, in going 2-for-4 with a three-run homer and a stolen base, he helped spoil the 2007 debut of Angels righty Jered Weaver (0-1), who was activated off the disabled list earlier in the day.
The homer came after a double by Eric Chavez and a walk to Mike Piazza in the fourth inning, giving Gaudin a 3-0 lead. Jason Kendall followed with a two-out RBI single later in the frame.
"It was a big day for him -- confidence-builder," A's manager Bob Geren said. "Hopefully this'll be the start of something for him."
"It was a step in the right direction," said Crosby, who laughed when asked if his freshly shorn head might have helped him shake the slump and added, "Look good, feel good, play good."
Gaudin, who also rocks a chrome dome, looked better than good. After Gary Matthews Jr. opened the game with a single and Maicer Izturis followed with a walk, Gaudin struck out the side swinging. Two more Angels reached base in the second, but Gaudin retired 13 in a row thereafter before hitting Howie Kendrick with a pitch to open the seventh.
Kendrick was erased on a double-play grounder, after which Shea Hillenbrand flied out to end the inning.
"We had a chance to get something going [early]," said Angels manager Mike Scioscia. "It could have changed the complexion of the game ... but [Gaudin] got out of it."
Gaudin, who went 3-0 with a 0.37 ERA in four starts last season at Triple-A Sacramento before being called up to the big leagues for good in May and working exclusively out of Oakland's bullpen, was forced into the rotation late this spring when Esteban Loaiza was placed on the disabled list with a bulging disk in his neck.
In picking up his first win as a starter since May 2005, when he was with the Blue Jays, Gaudin lowered his ERA to 1.96 in three starts this season.
"He kept the ball down, his breaking ball was good, and he had really good movement on his fastball," Geren said. "You couldn't even tell what they were from the side [view from the dugout] until you'd look up at the scoreboard and see '88' or '89' [mph]."
When Geren asked Gaudin if he was OK to go back out for the eighth inning, the manager received a look that bordered on disdain.
"He looked at me like, 'Yeah, I'm dealing here,' " Geren said. "I was 99 percent sure he was going to say yes, so it wasn't that he said yes. It was how he said yes."
"I knew I didn't have that many pitches," Gaudin said of the moment. "Of course I want to stay out there."
Alas, Reggie Willits singled with one out in the eighth, stole second with two out, then scored to end Gaudin's shutout bid when Izturis hit a long fly ball to left that fell behind A's left fielder Shannon Stewart and center fielder Nick Swisher, who looked like NFL wideouts running slant routes while trying to track the wind-blown drive.
"I don't know if I was the safety or he was the safety," Swisher said. "All I know is that wind was a joke."
"It was just ridiculous," Gaudin added. "All night, when the ball got in the air, you never knew what it was gonna do."
Izturis' double chased Gaudin, who walked two, hit a batter and struck out four on 101 pitches. Lefty Alan Embree got the A's out of the eighth, and closer Huston Street worked a perfect ninth for his third save in three chances this season.
"It was a good, clean win for us," Geren said. "We haven't had many of those this year."
Mychael Urban is a national writer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.