One day after battering their former ace, the Oakland Athletics will be handing the ball to their emerging one.
Oakland (21-20) pounded San Francisco 15-3 in Friday’s series opener, scoring seven runs in four innings off Barry Zito. The left-hander, who won 102 games and the 2002 AL Cy Young award with the A’s, signed a seven-year, $126 million contract with San Francisco in the offseason—the largest deal ever for a pitcher.
While Zito has been somewhat inconsistent with his new team, Haren (3-2, 1.64 ERA) has done plenty to help make up for his absence in Oakland. He owns the best ERA in the AL and has gone at least seven innings in six of his nine starts.
Haren threw eight scoreless innings Monday, but did not receive a decision in Oakland’s 2-1 loss to Kansas City.
“I had probably the best stuff I’ve had all year,” said Haren, who is holding opponents to a .199 batting average. “The ball was moving a lot. My stuff was sharp. It was almost hard for me to control it.”
Haren is 2-3 with a 3.79 ERA in seven career appearances, including six starts, against the Giants. He has gotten just four runs of support and has not received a decision in his last three starts despite allowing a total of four runs in 21 innings.
“If I keep pitching like I am now, I’ll win some games,” he told the Athletics’ official Web site. “I have been matched up with some outstanding pitchers.”
Haren is no doubt hoping the A’s can duplicate Friday’s performance at the plate. Dan Johnson and Travis Buck homered, and Mark Ellis added his second career grand slam. Oakland, which won for the third time in seven games, scored two more runs than it had managed in its last four games combined.
The Giants (20-21), who lost for the third time in four games, have managed only six runs in their last three games. Slugger Barry Bonds, who will serve as San Francisco’s designated hitter throughout the series, went 2-for-3 with two singles and a walk but did not homer for his eighth straight game and remained 10 behind career leader Hank Aaron with 745.
Bonds, who has been bothered by tightness in his left knee, was just 2-for-19 in his previous seven games. He has only one hit in seven lifetime at-bats against Haren, but it was a homer.
Randy Winn extended his hitting streak to 17 games with a seventh-inning RBI double, but Giants pitchers walked 13 batters for the fourth time since the franchise moved to San Francisco in 1958.
“That’s a game we have to wash off,” said manager Bruce Bochy, who was ejected along with reliever Steve Kline for arguing balls and strikes moments after Ellis’ slam. “There’s no getting around it—we were awful tonight. … You can’t walk guys like we did and expect to win.
Matt Cain (2-3, 3.18) will take the mound for the Giants on Saturday. He allowed one run in six innings of Sunday’s 15-2 win at Colorado, bouncing back after giving up 11 runs and 18 hits in 10 innings in consecutive losses.
Cain, who is holding opponents to a .198 batting average, also improved to 1-1 with a 1.04 ERA on the road.
Cain’s two previous starts against the A’s came last season. He went 1-1 with a 4.05 ERA against them, including a 6-0 one-hitter on May 21 in Oakland.
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