OAKLAND, Calif. (AP)—Mark Mulder received two visits on the mound late in the game, though only one was authorized. Neither was enough to throw him off his game.
“There’s not a whole lot of stuff that bothers him,” said A’s manager Ken Macha. “That’s one of the reasons he’s one of the premiere pitchers in the league.”
Mulder improved to 6-0 in six career starts against the Devil Rays. He struck out five and walked one.
“A complete game is my goal every time out,” said Mulder. “I want to finish what I start. I was getting a lot of quick outs and that definitely helped.”
The left-hander was briefly interrupted with two outs in the eighth inning when a female fan came over the Tampa Bay dugout, did a cartwheel across the first-base line and stood on the pitcher’s mound facing Mulder, who had backed off a few steps.
“She caught me off-guard so I stepped back off the mound,” said Mulder. “She asked me to throw her the ball. I said ‘No, I can’t do that.’ She said ‘OK’ and walked away.”
She was escorted off the field by security guards without further incident.
Macha visited the mound an inning later, to a round of booing, after Mulder gave up two hits.
“He just wanted to make sure the bullpen had time to get ready,” Mulder said. “I knew he wasn’t coming to take me out.”
Rocco Baldelli’s sixth home run of the season, a solo shot with two outs in the first inning, was the only hit against Mulder through the first six innings. Tampa Bay lost for the third time in four games.
Jorge Sosa (2-7) allowed five runs—four earned—on a season-high 11 hits in six-plus innings.
Mulder, who lost 1-0 to the Anaheim Angels in his last outing, improved to 11-1 in his last 16 starts in Oakland. He’s also 51-3 in 60 career starts when the A’s score four or more runs.
“He was nasty,” Tampa Bay catcher Toby Hall said of Mulder. “He’s the toughest lefty in the league.”
After Baldelli’s home run, Mulder set down 15 of the next 16 hitters, including 12 in a row.
“What was it, five balls out of the infield?” asked Devil Rays manager Lou Piniella. “He kind of dominated us.”
Aubrey Huff’s sun-aided pop up fell safely in short left field to end the streak.
“That lefty split is the hardest thing to hit,” said Huff. “Trying to get a hit off him in the clutch you feel lucky to get a hit like I did. I’ll take it.”
The first four Athletics reached base safely against Sosa and scored to give Oakland a 4-1 edge in the first.
Terrence Long, leading off for just the second time all season, singled, Hatteberg hit an RBI double and Miguel Tejada singled for his first RBI in July. Erubiel Durazo singled to right and both runners moved up when Terry Shumpert mishandled the ball.
“It was nice to jump out to the lead like that,” said Hatteberg. “Four runs for Mark is like a lot more runs for someone else. You could see him gain confidence.”
Chavez drove in a run with a sacrifice fly and Ramon Hernandez singled inanother run. Chavez also singled home a run in the fifth.
A’s OF Eric Byrnes was out of the starting lineup for the first time since April 23. … Baldelli’s 108 hits are most by the All-Star break by a 21-year-old (or younger) player since Hank Aaron had 109 with Milwaukee in 1955. … Durazo leads all DHs with 50 walks. … Tampa Bay has never won aseries in Oakland. … Sosa is 4-13 in 22 career starts.