07/18/07 7:10 PM ET
Big inning helps A's end nine-game skid
DiNardo tosses seven shutout innings as Scutaro leads attack
By Matt Smith / MLB.com
In the midst of a nine-game losing streak, the A's were looking for a big performance from somebody and got that from lefty Lenny DiNardo.
DiNardo delivered the best start of his career, throwing seven scoreless frames in which he allowed just three hits in a 6-0 win over the Rangers on Wednesday afternoon, playing the role of the stopper and halting Oakland's ugly skid.
"Lenny was tremendous," A's manager Bob Geren said. "He had control of all his pitches, and he and Kurt [Suzuki] worked well with the game plan."
DiNardo said he wasn't thinking about the losing streak, instead focusing on just competing against Texas.
"I wasn't thinking about the streak, I wasn't putting too much on my shoulders" DiNardo said. "I just wanted to go out and be aggressive. Good things happen when you are aggressive.
"A win always feels good. I don't think of it like I ended the losing streak, I think we ended it as a team."
"It was a much-needed win for the team," Geren said. "I couldn't be happier with the entire performance, it was a real nice win."
DiNardo got 12 ground balls for outs as he improved his record to 4-6 and saw his ERA drop to 2.51 for the season. All 12 of those ground balls went to the left side as third baseman Marco Scutaro and shortstop Bobby Crosby handled all chances perfectly.
"That's big, because it keeps you in rhythm with the game," Crosby said of staying busy in the field. "When you're making plays for [the pitcher], the game goes quicker.
"It was a big relief. That was the toughest stretch since I have been here, so it was nice to get a win."
The key for DiNardo is keeping the ball down in the zone and inducing a lot of ground-ball outs, which he did during his career-high seven frames.
"It looked like he was cutting his fastball in on the righties, and that resulted in a lot of ground balls to that side," Geren said.
"That side of the infield was great," DiNardo said.
DiNardo allowed just two baserunners to get past first base, and no Rangers runner reached third base while he was in the game. He allowed two doubles, an infield single and did not walk a batter.
"He's kind of funky and difficult to pick up," former A's and current Rangers catcher Adam Melhuse said of the lefty and his throwing motion. "He had it going. He changes speeds well and keeps you off-balance, and that's what he did today."
The bullpen followed suit, as Santiago Casilla came out of the 'pen and delivered two scoreless frames as Texas wound up with just four baserunners for the entire day.
"Casilla went out there, did a great job and took care of it," DiNardo said after the right-hander preserved the win.
DiNardo and the A's must have felt like they could breathe easy early on, after having their biggest single inning in nearly three weeks.
The A's scored four times in the second inning, the most they had scored in any inning since a seven-run second inning against the Yankees on July 1.
"That many runs are always good to have on your side," DiNardo said. "Mentally I was thinking the game was 0-0. That helps me stay focused."
The A's had just three singles during the rally but took advantage of three walks and a crucial error by Texas starter Kevin Millwood.
After walking Nick Swisher and allowing a single to Mark Ellis to start the inning, the Rangers righty fielded a tapper by Mark Kotsay, but in firing to second to try and force Ellis, his throw forced Michael Young off the bag and everyone was safe.
Scutaro then lined a single to score a run, Crosby walked in a run, Travis Buck delivered a sacrifice fly and Shannon Stewart's bloop single brought another run.
The A's didn't tear the cover off the ball by any means in the inning, but got the timely hits and at-bats that had been hard to come by during the nine-game losing streak.
"That was nice," Geren said. "We had a stretch, and I don't like to blame bad luck, but we had a run where things didn't go our way, so that was a nice feeling as things were turning around."
The A's went without a hit after that second inning until Crosby hit a home run just to the right of the out-of-town scoreboard in left field off Rangers reliever Willie Eyre in the seventh.
Even though they had just six hits on the day, they made them count, turning two eighth-inning hits into some more insurance after Swisher doubled and Ellis singled as Kotsay picked up an RBI with a groundout.
"I felt like every run was big," Geren said.
Matt Smith is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.