Diamondbacks 7, Athletics 2
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP)—Miguel Batista spent his time between innings bantering with fellow Dominican teammate Juan Cruz—a far cry from the typical keep-to-yourself approach most pitchers stick to during a no-hit bid.
Cruz actually had the gall before the game to challenge Batista to go out and justify his big paycheck.
And boy did he.
“I threw everything today, everything I’ve got,” Batista said. “The one thing that surprised me is they didn’t take too many pitches. They’re a team that usually makes you work.”
Batista (8-5) finished with a three-hitter for his second complete game of the year and the ninth of his career. He retired the first 20 A’s batters before he walked No. 3 hitter Bobby Crosby on four pitches with two outs in the seventh for Oakland’s first baserunner.
Thomas followed with a two-run shot to the cement stairwell in left field to break up the no-hit bid, hitting a 2-2 cutter for his 17th homer one day after coming off the disabled list. The Big Hurt has 465 career home runs, tying him with Dave Winfield for 25th place on the career list.
The 35-year-old Batista was trying for the majors’ first no-hitter since Randy Johnson pitched a perfect game for Arizona on May 18, 2004, at Atlanta. He struck out six and walked one in a 122-pitch performance.
“I haven’t seen him pitch like that for several years,” Thomas said.
Batista got through six innings having thrown only 74 pitches—allowing just two balls to leave the infield, both routine flyouts. There wasn’t even a close play until Gold Glove second baseman Orlando Hudson made a diving stop on Mark Kotsay’s sharp grounder in the seventh moments before Crosby walked.
“You want to get on base and you can’t,” Crosby said. “You never want a team to throw a perfect game or a no-hitter against you. I was just trying to get on base any way I could.”
Luis Gonzalez matched his career high with four hits and had three doubles to tie a Diamondbacks record. It was the third time an Arizona player has doubled three times in a game this season and the first since Johnny Estrada on May 6. Estrada drove in two runs Saturday.
Batista, who ended a three-start losing streak when he beat the Los Angeles Angels 9-7 last Sunday in Phoenix, worked ahead in the count all afternoon to keep his pitch count down—and his gem helped Arizona win back-to-back games for the first time since sweeping a four-game series at Atlanta from June 1-4.
“It just feels good,” Arizona manager Bob Melvin said. “Whether it’s (because it’s) July, I don’t know.”
Batista pumped his fist when he struck out Crosby to end the game. He had given up at least six runs in three of his last four outings, allowing 22 runs in 22 1-3 innings spanning those four starts.
Cruz told Batista and Estrada they were an “overpaid” combination and needed a big game.
“I did a lot of crazy stuff today,” Batista said. “Johnny said, ‘What are you doing?’ I said, ‘Justifying the paycheck.”’
His teammates weren’t too surprised to see Batista jawing with Cruz in the midst of an outing that could have made history.
“He talks to everybody,” Gonzalez said. “Miggy’s Miggy. He’s a different bird.”
Oakland, which came in with an AL-worst .249 batting average, hasn’t been no-hit since July 13, 1991, by four Baltimore Orioles pitchers.
Jeff DaVanon’s infield single in Arizona’s six-run seventh broke a scoreless tie, with Shawn Green coming home after leading off the inning with a double. Conor Jackson singled in two runs, Gonzalez added an RBI double, and Chad Tracy and Estrada each had RBI singles as Arizona batted around in the inning.
Esteban Loaiza (3-5) pitched 6 2-3 innings for Oakland, running into trouble in the seventh. He allowed nine hits and five runs, struck out three and walked one to lose after pitching his first complete game in more than two years— since May 9, 2004, at Toronto while with the Chicago White Sox—with a six-hitter June 25 at San Francisco.
Loaiza didn’t allow a hit until Gonzalez doubled with two outs in the fourth, then DaVanon tripled to the wall in center the next inning.
Oakland, which had its season-best eight-game home winning streak snapped Friday night with a 6-4 defeat, lost a series to Arizona for the first time in five sets. This series marked the first meetings between the clubs since July 6-8, 2001, when the A’s earned a three-game sweep.
Arizona had an error when catcher Estrada missed a catch on Marco Scutaro’s popup in foul territory in the third.
Oakland manager Ken Macha has been in uniform for three perfect games. … Loaiza is 3-2 in day games. … Oakland 3B Eric Chavez missed his second straight game with inflammation in his forearms. … Batista faced the A’s four times last season—all in relief—while with the Toronto Blue Jays. … The latest A’s fan giveaway: oven mitts and potholders. … Green hit his 17th double a day after getting two to reach 400 career doubles. … Gonzalez has 17 four-hit games.