DENVER (AP)—Spotting his pitches and a dash of food poisoning was all Byung-Hyun Kim needed to break out of a difficult stretch.
After allowing 14 earned runs in 15 innings over his last three starts, Kim (4-4) had the A’s off balance all night, holding them to four hits in six innings—not bad for someone who felt weak and queasy from his first pitch to last.
“I ate some bad food. My temperature is OK, but my tongue is numb,” Kim said. “I feel weak right now. I didn’t throw up, but I was shaky. It started after I ate lunch.”
Shaky also could describe some of Kim’s starts this season.
When he’s good, the side-arming right-hander is able to control the strike zone, hitting the corners instead of the middle of the plate and keeping the ball down. And when Kim is hitting his spots, the results are impressive—three runs or less in six of his 10 starts.
But when Kim’s pitches start sailing up through the zone and he has trouble finding the plate, he tends to give up runs in bunches—five or more in three starts.
After working with the Rockies’ coaching staff on some minor adjustments, Kim kept the ball down and away from the barrel of Oakland’s bats for most of the night, combining with Ramon Ramirez, Jose Mesa and Ray King for the sixth shutout—fifth combined—at Coors Field this season. Kim struck out five and walked three, helping Colorado win its team-record seventh straight interleague game.
“It sounds simple and it is at times, but when you get behind in counts and don’t retire first hitters, pitch up in the zone, at this level you’re going to get it handed to you,” Rockies manager Clint Hurdle said. “You’ve got to be able to go both sides, stay out of the middle, work up and down, down more than up, up when you want to—it’s usually late—and be able to pitch people tight. He was able to do that tonight.”
Oakland had strung together the majors’ longest winning streak this season behind solid starting pitching and timely hits. The A’s got the pitching from Dan Haren (6-6), but not the hitting.
Oakland, which entered with the AL’s second-worst batting average at .254, didn’t get a runner past first base until the seventh inning and hit into four double plays. The A’s also went 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position, dropping them to .228 for the season, worst in the majors.
“We didn’t give him any support,” A’s manager Ken Macha said. “You hit into that many double plays you won’t score many runs.”
Haren held the Rockies to three runs—two earned—and seven hits with six strikeouts in seven innings, becoming the 11th straight Oakland starter to pitch into the sixth inning. That’s usually good enough to win at hitter-friendly Coors Field, but this time all it got Haren was his first June loss in 10 starts the last two seasons.
“I can’t be critical of the lack of run support,” Haren said. “I’ve won games when I didn’t pitch well and I got run support. It’s up to me to pitch well enough to win.”
Holliday had the big hit against Haren, lining a two-run homer—his 15th— over the wall in center. It was the first homer against Haren since New York’s Jorge Posada hit a solo shot at Yankee Stadium on May 15, a span of 40 innings.
Holliday also had a hand in Colorado’s third run off Haren in the sixth inning, lining a single that went through left fielder Nick Swisher’s legs for an error, allowing Ryan Spilborghs to score from first to put the Rockies up 3-0.
Holliday finished 3-for-4 and is hitting .418 over his last 20 games, raising his average from .326 to .353.
“I try not to get too complicated with my hitting,” Holliday said. “I have a few little things that I work on every day and I try to take them into the game and put them to use. I try to get good pitches to hit, be relaxed and try to take what I do in batting practice in the cage into the game.”
“Once they got into our bullpen it got pretty ugly,” Macha said.
Sauerbeck signed with the Athletics on Monday. Cleveland designated him for assignment June 9 and then unconditionally released him on June 16. … Oakland OF Mark Kotsay missed his fourth straight game with a sore back. … The A’s had won four straight road games. … Colorado’s Todd Helton was 0-for-3, ending his hitting streak at nine games.