Gaudin, A's one-hit Yanks in Bronx
Bid for no-hitter lost in sixth inning; three homers lead offense
NEW YORK -- On a beautiful Saturday afternoon in the Bronx, the A's finally enjoyed a day on which everything came up roses, rainbows, chocolate waterslides and animal balloons.
Chad Gaudin's been struggling? Here, kid. Take seven innings of one-hit, shutout brilliance, putting Gaudin back into the All-Star conversation after three subpar outings.
"I look at [All-Star honors] the same way I look at a no-hitter," Gaudin said after losing his bid for history in the sixth inning of Oakland's 7-0 cruise in the second game of a three-game set at Yankee Stadium.
"If it comes, it's a bonus. If it happens, it's an honor. But it's always about the team winning games."
Concerned about Rich Harden, who had to cut short his previous outing and wasn't up to his scheduled Friday assignment? Those two no-hit innings must have tasted nice.
"I felt all right," said Harden, who walked two and threw 31 pitches in the eighth before zipping through a perfect ninth. "I didn't have the best command out there, but the main thing is, I threw 47 pitches. It was good getting through that second inning."
Worried about Dan Johnson's job security, what with Daric Barton doing a passable Ted Williams impersonation down on the farm? That two-run homer into the upper tank of The House That Ruth Built had to make you feel better.
"That was really extra cool," Johnson blurted like a 12-year-old hopped up on five Jolt colas. "It's something you see as a kid, guys hitting balls up there. It's nice to have one of those under your belt."
Jason Kendall's .217 batting average and general lack of pop still got you down? Well, after going 3-for-3 with his second homer in a month, Kendall's batting .324 (22-for-68) over his past 18 games.
"I can't go on the record about the homer," said mischievously smiling center fielder Mark Kotsay, Kendall's best friend on the team and a serial razzer. "I'll say something funny and he'll get mad at me."
"He jacked it," added Johnson. "He's been hitting a lot of balls deep lately -- like one a game."
"Jacked" might be taking things a bit far. Kendall's solo shot in the third off Yankees starter Kei Igawa crashed into the foul pole down the left-field line and just cleared the 318-foot marker. But after having lost seven of their previous eight games, the A's felt entitled to a little hyperbole.
What can't be exaggerated is how well Shannon Stewart has been swinging the bat on this 10-game road trip. He went 2-for-5 with a homer on Saturday and is batting .486 (18-for-37) with four homers through the first nine games.
Prior to the start of the road trip, Stewart was batting .271 with three homers. Now he's bating .301, by far the best on the team.
"I can't really say he's been hot lately," A's manager Bob Geren said. "He's had a great season. But this road trip, he's improved his home run totals. It's been great."
Gaudin is having a great season, too. But while he was a serious All-Star candidate at 6-1 with a 2.41 ERA as recently as June 3, he went winless in his next four starts and 0-2 with a 6.35 ERA in the most recent three.
Saturday's gem moved him to 7-3, and his 2.92 ERA moved him into the top five in the American League.
"I felt like it was a good turnaround," said Gaudin, who walked three and struck out four. "Not just for me, but for everyone, the whole team. We needed this."
Gaudin got all he needed in the back-to-back homers by Kendall and Stewart. Johnson's rocket into the third deck made it 4-0 in the sixth, and Eric Chavez followed Nick Swisher's two-run double in the seventh with an RBI double of his own to close the scoring.
"The way he was pitching," Geren said of Gaudin, "he didn't need many [runs] today."
Yankees catcher Jorge Posada sounded considerably less impressed when asked if he thought Gaudin had no-hit stuff.
"To tell you the truth, no," he said. "I thought we hit some hard balls but right at people. It's just the game of baseball."
Then again, consider the mood of the source. The struggling Yankees aren't exactly walking around with strawberry-milk moustaches and ever-lasting gobstoppers in their pockets.
"It seems like there's times when we go through the motions," Posada said, "and today was one of those days."
It was one of those days for the A's in a very different way. As tough as this trip's been, a win in Sunday's series finale would give them a series victory and some much-needed momentum heading into the final homestand of the first half.
"Today was just great," Geren said. "You couldn't have planned it any better."
Mychael Urban is a national writer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.