Gio throttles Angels as A's win again
Rookie hurls 6 1/3 shutout innings; team makes it 10 of 12
ANAHEIM -- After posting to back-to-back starts in which he didn't even get out of the fourth inning, A's left-hander Gio Gonzalez turned to pitching coach Curt Young and bullpen coach Ron Romanick for help.
Gonzalez worked with the two and decided to change the grip on both his two-seam fastball and his changeup, and the results couldn't have been much better on Friday against the Angels.
Gonzalez dominated the high-powered Angels offense by tossing 6 1/3 innings as the offense did just enough in Oakland's 3-0 win in front of 43,242 at Angel Stadium, giving the surging A's their 10th win in 12 games.
"That was one of the better performances he's had," A's manager Bob Geren said after his team closed to within six games of .500 with nine to play. "He didn't walk a batter until the last guy, so that's what I was happy with. He didn't fall behind batters."
Gonzalez allowed just four hits and also struck out seven batters as the Angels went 0-for-4 with runners in scoring position against him.
And he did it with the curveball, too, as Geren called Gonzalez's breaking ball "by far the best" it's been this season.
"It felt good with the curveball landing for strikes," Gonzalez said. "You can be a happy pitcher when stuff like that happens. I had all three pitches working tonight, so I'm thankful for that."
Gonzalez also got just enough offense behind him after the A's were held in check early by Angels right-hander Jered Weaver until finally breaking through with a run in the fifth inning on an RBI single by Adam Kennedy.
The A's then added to their lead with runs in the sixth and seventh innings. Daric Barton had a run-scoring single in the sixth to score Ryan Sweeney, who led off the frame with a double off Weaver, who allowed two runs on six hits over six innings.
"My fastball command was pretty erratic," Weaver said. "Some things fell. That's baseball."
In the seventh, Eric Patterson did it all himself with a little help from Angels catcher Jeff Mathis, whose errant throw to second base on a stolen base allowed Patterson to reach third before Mathis uncorked another errant throw on a pickoff play at third that allowed Patterson to score Oakland's third run.
Geren called Patterson a "human pinball" as the ball hit him on both of Mathis' throws.
"We kind of scratched the offense together," Geren said. "It was nothing spectacular but we battled and got some guys on base."
But if the offense wasn't spectacular, the bullpen duo of reliever Michael Wuertz and closer Andrew Bailey certainly was.
Wuertz relieved Gonzalez in the seventh inning with one out and matched a career high with five strikeouts in 1 2/3 innings worth of work.
"The relief job Michael did might've topped Gio's performance if you can believe it," Geren said. "He struck out five guys and allowed a little six-hop weak single. He struck out lefties and righties."
Bailey then came in to earn his 26th save of the season while also picking up strikeout No. 13 on the night for the A's after shaking off a throwing error by shortstop Cliff Pennington to start the frame.
"The consistency they've both brought to the bullpen is hard to match," Geren said. "A lot of teams going into the postseason right now wouldn't want to face something like that."
Even though Wuertz and Bailey won't be in the playoffs this season for the A's, they can at least be encouraged by the fact that the club's 16-7 record this month is the best in baseball.
"We're rolling right now and it's fun to see," Bailey said. "Our guys are doing well so it gives you excitement for next year and years to come."
Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.