Haren pitched a six-hitter for his first complete game this season and Oakland homered twice off an inconsistent Johnson to beat the New York Yankees 6-1 Sunday.
“It was definitely my best game of the year. I had outstanding command. I got into a groove and I was down in the zone for the most part,” Haren said. “Of course, doing it in Yankee Stadium makes it that much better.”
“It’s hard to really replace those guys, but we’ve got some depth this year that we can put some guys out there and still get the job done,” Payton said.
Haren (3-3) gave up only a second-inning homer to Jorge Posada, winning his second consecutive start and sending the Yankees to their first loss in 13 day games this year.
Pitching in the Bronx for the first time, the 25-year-old right-hander struck out six and walked none in his fourth career complete game. The other three came last season.
“He never throws the ball straight. He’s not fun to face,” Derek Jeter said.
As he walked off the field, Haren tossed the game ball to his sister, Stephanie, who lives in New York and was sitting behind Oakland’s dugout.
The Yankees lost for only the fourth time in 14 games.
“What was most surprising to me was how aggressive they were early in the count,” Haren said. “It just kind of worked out well.”
Johnson (5-4) has struggled so much recently that the Yankees sent him for an MRI after his previous outing to make sure he wasn’t injured. He pitched a little better this time out, but not good enough.
“I thought he was more aggressive. He’s still a little erratic with his slider. It’s a step in the right direction. We have a long way to go yet,” New York manager Joe Torre said. “I know he’s not going to be happy with it. He still thinks he can dominate a game.”
Johnson fell behind 3-0 in the first. He yielded four runs and eight hits in six innings overall, throwing 72 of 106 pitches for strikes.
After beginning the season with three solid starts, the left-hander is 3-3 with a 6.89 ERA in his last six. He has lost his last two outings, both at Yankee Stadium, after winning 12 decisions in a row at home.
“There’s nobody more frustrated than me,” Johnson said. “I’m not pitching the way I’m accustomed to pitching.”
Annoyed when time was called with Kotsay in the box, Johnson had a verbal confrontation with plate umpire Tony Randazzo in the fifth. It didn’t seem to affect his pitching, though.
“I thought there was no timeout and the batter was in the box,” Johnson said. “I was halfway into my motion, and he said the batter wasn’t ready. I guess it’s his job to protect the batter.”
Johnson walked his first hitter, Mark Ellis. One out later, Kotsay pulled a low pitch just over the short porch in right for his third home run.
Kotsay was swinging one of the pink bats used all around the big leagues on Mother’s Day to raise awareness and funds for breast cancer research.
“First home run by a pink bat? Sweet,” Kotsay said. “It is heavier. The balance of the bat wasn’t the best.”
The Big Unit had gone 36 regular-season starts without giving up a homer to a left-handed hitter since Toronto’s Eric Hinske connected on April 29, 2005.
The crowd of 52,587 began to boo Johnson, and Bobby Crosby followed with a single before stealing second and scoring on Payton’s RBI grounder.
“I remember when he used to throw 97, 98 (mph) all game and his slider was about 90. He’s a pitcher now,” Payton now.
Posada connected on an 0-2 pitch from Haren, cutting it to 3-1. But Haren set down his next 13 batters.
Johnson also settled down, retiring 10 straight until Payton went deep in the sixth. It was his first homer of the season and third off Johnson.
“I’m trying to find something to build on. I need a foundation first. I have to keep working and trying to work it out,” Johnson said. “It’s disheartening because you still didn’t execute enough to win the ballgame.”
An error by Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez led to an unearned run in the ninth.
The A’s stole three bases. They began the day with five steals all season, which had been the fewest in the majors. Texas has six and is the only other team in single digits. … Perez was hitless in his first 24 at-bats this season. … Thomas (strained right quadriceps) missed his third straight game. Chavez (bacterial infection) sat out for the fifth time in six games. Bradley remained on the disabled list with a sprained right knee. He also has a strained right oblique muscle.