Mulder matched his career best by winning his seventh straight decision, pitching a four-hitter for his major league-leading fourth complete game, and Jermaine Dye hit a two-run homer to help the A’s beat the Anaheim Angels 2-1 Thursday.
With Oakland’s bullpen struggling, manager Ken Macha allowed Mulder (9-2) to give the staff its seventh complete game, also the most in the majors. He struck out four and walked three as Oakland gained a split of the four-game series.
“I didn’t really have my best sinker when the game started and wasn’t throwing too many strikes right out of the shoot,” said Mulder, who threw 106 pitches. “But then I started getting in the groove later in the game and started throwing a lot of them. I was able to get a lot of ground balls and a lot of quick outs, and was able to keep my pitch count down. So I wasn’t really tired in the ninth.”
“I didn’t want to throw anything over the plate to Guerrero because I just didn’t want him to hit a homer,” Mulder said. “Obviously, Garret’s a great hitter and he’s done decent against me. But it was one of those situations where, left-on-lefty, I’ll take my chances.”
After the game, Oakland bolstered its bullpen by acquiring closer Octavio Dotel from Houston in a three-way trade.
The A’s sent two minor leaguers, third baseman Mark Teahen and starting pitcher Mike Wood, to the Kansas City Royals, who sent outfielder Carlos Beltran to the Astros for minor league catcher John Buck.
“Octavio Dotel is one of the most talented relievers in the game,” A’s general manager Billy Beane said. “It obviously fills a very big need.”
Mulder, unbeaten in 10 starts since an April 28 loss at Yankee Stadium, has allowed no more than two earned runs in seven of his last eight starts, lowering his ERA to 2.76. His 64 wins since the start of the 2001 season are the most in the majors, and he is 51-10 with a 2.00 ERA when he pitches at least seven innings.
“He’s one of the top pitchers in baseball,” Dye said. “He has a great split-finger fastball that gets a lot of ground balls. He makes hitters swing at his pitch. And when you’re throwing strikes and you’re around the zone, hitters tend to go up there ready to hit and they get themselves out. He relies on that, and that’s why he’s able to keep his pitch count down and get into the ninth inning.”
Ramon Ortiz, making his second impressive start following a seven-week demotion to the bullpen, allowed one run and three hits in 5 1-3 innings and struck out six. He pitched six scoreless innings at Houston last Saturday.
Ortiz walked only one batter, Mark McLemore leading off the sixth. It proved costly when Dye drove Scot Shields’ second pitch over the fence in left-center for a 2-1 lead. Manager Mike Scioscia thought Ortiz had had enough after 91 pitches.
“Ramon pitched a great game, and I blew it for him,” a disconsolate Shields said. “I made a bad pitch and Dye made me pay for it. I tried to throw it low and away to get a ground-ball double-play, but it ended up middle-in.
“It was a bad situation to give up a home run. He’s their home run guy. He’s hit the ball hard against me, but it’s just been right at guys. This time, there weren’t any guys he could hit it at.”
The home run was Dye’s 14th this season, his second in 16 games—and only the second allowed by Shields (5-1) in 46 2-3 innings.
“I don’t blame Scioscia for the move he made because I’ve struggled against him in the past,” Dye said. “He’s a sinkerballer, and it was a chance to get a double play and get out of the inning. But I just happened to get a ball that I could handle and hit it out of the park.”
David Eckstein led off the Angels’ first inning with an opposite-field double down the right-field line and scored on Anderson’s sacrifice fly.
Ortiz didn’t give up his first hit until the fourth, when Dye hit a two-out popup that second baseman Alfredo Amezaga lost in the sun near the mound and dropped for a single. Amezaga started at second for the fourth time thisseason.
Oakland was 3-7 on a trip that followed an 11-1 homestand. … The Athletics outscored opponents 48-7 in Mulder’s previous four victories. … Angels 1B Darin Erstad did not play because of residual swelling in the bottom knuckle on the middle finger of his right hand. He dislocated it on a checked swing Wednesday night, but it popped back into place on its own. … Dye’sfirst hit ended an 0-for-12 drought.