Lilly boasts a 1.89 ERA during a three-start win streak, capped with Friday’s 3-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. The 27-year-old left-hander allowed one run, a solo homer by Julio Lugo, and four hits over six innings, striking out seven and walking two.
“He’s really stepped up,” A’s second baseman Mark Ellis said. “We all know he’s got great stuff. It’s just a matter of putting it together. Playing behind him, he makes hitters look really stupid sometimes. That’s a sign of having really good stuff.”
The run follows a stretch in which Lilly went 1-4 with a 5.56 ERA over 10 starts. Acquired by the A’s in the middle of last season in a three-way trade that included Detroit and the New York Yankees, Lilly was the subject of constant trade rumors leading up to the July 31 non-waiver deadline.
But with those rumors behind him and Oakland ace Mark Mulder out with a hip injury, Lilly has turned up his level of play.
Yet, he insists he still isn’t meeting his potential.
“I haven’t really done the things that I’d like to,” Lilly said, “but more importantly, we’re in first place and we’ve got a good chance to win the division and get into the playoffs.
“I look forward to being able to contribute from here on out.”
The A’s had lost three straight and five of six before Tuesday’s 8-1 victory over the Angels. Miguel Tejada and Eric Chavez each drove in three runs, and Justin Duchscherer, who hadn’t pitched in the big leagues since 2001, allowed just four hits over seven scoreless innings.
Chris Bootcheck failed to get out of the fourth inning in his major league debut, allowing eight runs on seven hits over 3 1-3 innings. Bootcheck took over for Ramon Ortiz, who left the team to be with his family following the recent death of his father in the Dominican Republic.
Adam Kennedy had two of Anaheim’s six hits and stole a base for the Angels, who had won three of four before the setback.
STANDINGS: Angels - 3rd place, 15 GB, AL West. Athletics - 1st place, AL West.
ANGELS PROBABLE STARTER: Jarrod Washburn (10-13, 4.35 ERA). Washburn is 1-2 with a 3.68 ERA over his last five starts, including Friday’s 5-0 loss to Kansas City. The left-hander allowed three runs and a season-high tying 11 hits over seven innings. Washburn is 5-7 with a 3.64 ERA in 17 career appearances against Oakland, including 16 starts.
ATHLETICS PROBABLE STARTER: Lilly (9-9, 4.61 ERA). Lilly is 2-1 with a 2.91 ERA in four career starts against the Angels.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Angels - Garret Anderson, .316 avg., 29 HRs and 114 RBIs; Tim Salmon, 72 runs; Kennedy, 19 SBs. Athletics - Chavez, .282 avg.; Tejada, 92 RBIs and 87 runs; Chavez and Tejada, 25 HRs; Eric Byrnes and Tejada, 9 SBs.
SEASON SERIES: Athletics, 8-7.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Angels - Anaheim’s bullpen pitched 4 2-3 scoreless innings Tuesday and has an AL-best 2.86 ERA. … The Angels already have lost 12 more games than all of last season … SS David Eckstein was activated from the 15-day DL Tuesday but didn’t play. He has been out since Aug. 19 with a nerve irritation in his right leg. Athletics - LHP Lilly’s three-game win streak matches the longest of his career. He won his final decision last season and his first two this year. … SS Tejada and 3B Chavez have combined for a .321 average (128-for-399) with 18 home runs and 73 RBIs since the All-Star Break. … OF Terrence Long had his suspension reduced by one game, and his fine lowered, after appealing his original four-game suspension Monday for bumping home plate umpire Marvin Hudson last Tuesday in Baltimore. Long began serving the suspension Tuesday and will be eligible to return Friday.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Angels - 30-42 on the road; Athletics - 51-22 at home.
INJURIES: Angels - 3B Troy Glaus (shoulder), 15-day DL; OF Darin Erstad (hamstring), 15-day DL; RHP Matt Wise (elbow), 60-day DL; C Bengie Molina (wrist), 60-day DL; 1B-DH Brad Fullmer (knee), 60-day DL. Athletics - LHP Micah Bowie (elbow), 15-day DL; LHP Mulder (hip), 15-day DL.