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04/02/10 2:37 AM ET

Duchscherer shows old form vs. Giants

A's righty hurls six shutout innings, pleased with curveball

SAN FRANCISCO -- Justin Duchscherer's performance Thursday against the San Francisco Giants was meaningful on different levels.

For one thing, he improved vastly from his last outing, permitting the Giants three hits in six scoreless innings after weathering a three-inning, nine-hit, 11-run storm last Saturday against Kansas City.

It also represented a step forward personally for Duchscherer, who did not pitch in the Majors last season as he recovered from elbow surgery and clinical depression.

"Last year I went through a lot of stuff off the field," said Duchscherer, who received the decision in Oakland's 9-0 victory. "There was one point where I thought maybe I'd never play again. I'm proud of myself for getting through what I needed to get through. It's still Spring Training, I have a long way to go during the season, but it feels good to be back out there."

Duchscherer, who's expected to help anchor Oakland's starting rotation, admitted that the thumping he absorbed against Kansas City shook his confidence. As he put it, "after getting my butt kicked like I did the other day, it was kind of like, 'Wow, do I still have the ability to do this?'"

He realized that he did. But he had to intensify his attitude first.

"I was kind of going through the motions," Duchscherer said. "I had the mentality of, 'It's Spring Training, get your work in.' Getting beat like that last time kind of told me that you can't go out there and go through the motions. I made sure I focused more and really thought about [pitching at] midseason game speed. It really helped me keep my head in the game."

Meanwhile, his arm took the Giants out of the game. Duchscherer's fastball rarely exceeded 85 mph, but his variety of offspeed pitches confused San Francisco's hitters. Duchscherer was especially pleased with his curveball, which helped him no-hit the Giants for 3 1/3 innings and strike out six.

"It's kind of my bread-and-butter pitch to keep guys back and forth, and it was much better today," he said.

Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.