A's rookie Anderson two-hits Red Sox
Lefty tosses first career shutout in Nomar's return to Fenway
BOSTON -- No matter what Nomar Garciaparra would have done in his return to Fenway Park, grabbing even a slice of the attention pie was going to be difficult for anyone wearing an Oakland uniform on Monday.
That Garciaparra, a Boston baseball icon for the better part of a decade, went 2-for-4 with an RBI single off likely future Hall of Famer John Smoltz figured to make it that much harder.
But check out the final score after the A's claimed the opener of a three-game series here: 6-0.
Somebody had to put up all those goose-eggs. Thus, Garciaparra was more than happy to share the spotlight after his first game at Fenway Park since he was traded from Boston to the Cubs in July 2004.
All the zeroes came courtesy of the same arm, and that in itself if big news. Rookie left-hander Brett Anderson turned in the game of his life with a two-hitter, striking out a career-high nine with two walks.
"A bunch of TV people wanted me for a postgame [interview] on the field," Garciaparra said. "I told them, 'What do you want me for? Did you see our pitcher tonight?!'
"It's not about me from a baseball side tonight. It was all Brett."
It was all Anderson and then some.
Anderson, 21, became the first A's pitcher to get through the eighth inning since Justin Duchscherer slapped a two-hit shutout on the visiting Mariners on July 8, 2008 -- this was Oakland's first complete game in 363 days.
"Any time you pitch into the eighth inning, you're doing everyone a favor," said Anderson, who kept warmed-up relievers Brad Ziegler and Craig Breslow in the bullpen by cruising through the ninth on nine pitches.
An equally impressive inning for Anderson (5-7) was the fourth, when he responded to his offense's four-run outburst in the top of the frame by striking out Julio Lugo, Kevin Youkilis and David Ortiz.
"He had a powerful fastball, a real good slider and he attacked the strike zone with both pitches and pretty much carved us up," Red Sox manager Terry Francona offered. "He went right through us tonight."
A charge of emotion went through Garciaparra in the second inning, when the Fenway faithful welcomed him back with a long standing ovation prior to his first at-bat of the night.
Garciaparra said he didn't have the vocabulary to describe the feeling, then smiled and said to a handful of reporters, "That's your job, to come up with words like that. I wish I could do it, but I can't."
Francona, Garciaparra's last manager in Boston, was similarly moved.
"It looked like it really touched him," Francona said. "It's a pretty special place. I hope that never changes. They're crazy fans, but they're so wrapped up, emotionally, in their team and people that have been a part of their teams. I think that's pretty cool."
Anderson, whose fastball sat in the 88- to 93-mph range for most of the season's first two months, got three extra days of rest before his final start of June, and he's been lighting up the stadium radar guns since.
Last week in Oakland he was touching 97, and he was doing it again Monday.
"I always seem to throw harder as the season goes on," Anderson said. "I think part of it is the extra rest, but it's also a credit to [strength and conditioning coach] Bob Alejo and the [training] staff. I'm in the best shape I've been in in a long time."
Anderson said Garciaparra being the center of attention Monday night against the Red Sox (49-33) probably helped, too.
"It kind of took the pressure off me," Anderson said. "It's a day I'll never forget."
Jason Giambi, booed every time he stepped into the batter's box by fans still sour at him for having played for the rival Yankees, got the A's (35-46) going in the fourth with a double off Red Sox righty John Smoltz, who was making his Fenway debut.
Kurt Suzuki's bunt single pushed Giambi to third, and Garciaparra punched a single through the left side to give Anderson all the support he'd need.
The A's got him more, though. Mark Ellis hit a two-run double to center later in the inning, and Adam Kennedy made it 4-0 with an RBI single, one of his three hits on the night.
Oakland padded its lead in the sixth; Jack Cust led off with a double, and Kennedy's two-out single scored pinch-runner Scott Hairston. Orlando Cabrera, another former Boston shortstop, capped the scoring with a home run over the Green Monster in the top of the ninth, pausing slightly to admire his work.
Hairston stayed in the game and dropped Jason Bay's fly ball to center field with one out in the seventh, but Anderson shrugged off the three-base error by getting Jason Varitek on a popup in foul ground and Rocco Baldelli on a fly ball to right fielder Ryan Sweeney.
"You have to tip your cap to the kid tonight," Smoltz (0-2) said. "He pitched a magnificent game."
"He absolutely abused us," Varitek said.
With his wife, all-world soccer player Mia Hamm, waiting outside the visitors' clubhouse at Fenway, Garciaparra said he'll find a way to express his gratitude to Anderson for the role he played in his return to town.
"I can't wait to take him out to dinner and thank him for making tonight so much better," Garciaparra said.
Mychael Urban is a national writer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.