OAKLAND, Calif. (AP)—Bobby Crosby’s bat had been silent and his defense shaky.
On one of the chilliest, windiest nights in players’ recent memory at the Coliseum, Crosby took a big step toward returning to the form that earned him 2004 AL Rookie of the Year honors.
After two injury plagued seasons, he was thrilled with the three-run homer he hit to break a scoreless tie and his own 23-game homerless streak in the Oakland Athletics’ 4-1 win over the Los Angeles Angels on Tuesday night.
“Since the beginning of the season it has kind of been a battle both offensively and defensively,” said Crosby, limited during the spring while recovering from a back injury. “To come out and contribute felt good. It’s coming. I don’t think a home run and a single is 100 percent, but it is a step in the right direction.”
The drive to left-center in the decisive fourth inning spoiled Jered Weaver’s 2007 debut and also helped Chad Gaudin (1-0) pick up his first victory of the year. The victory extended his career-best winning streak to five games dating to last July 4. Gaudin allowed four hits in a career-high 7 2-3 innings, allowing an RBI double to Maicer Izturis in the eighth for the Angels’ lone run.
Los Angeles, which has scored only six runs in its last five games, lost its fifth straight, then held a short team meeting afterward.
“Offensively we’ve got to end these giveaway at-bats,” manager Mike Scioscia said. “We talked about it as a group.”
Crosby, who came into the game batting .167, also singled and stole a base in the second. His fourth-inning shot carried on a cold Bay Area night when the winds topped out at 24 mph and were strong enough to ripple the tarp covering the upper deck of seats and blow trash across the field in the early innings.
“I’ve never played in anything like that here,” Oakland second baseman Mark Ellis said.
Eric Chavez doubled off the wall to start the fourth, then Mike Piazza walked before Todd Walker flied out to left to bring up Crosby. The shortstop, who was sidelined after Aug. 21 last year with a back injury that kept him out of the postseason, had only six hits before this game. After his hit, Travis Buck reached on a two-base error by left fielder Garret Anderson and Jason Kendall singled Buck home.
After allowing a leadoff single to Gary Matthews Jr. and a walk to Izturis, Gaudin struck out the side in order in the first. The right-hander walked Reggie Willits with two outs in the second before retiring the next 13 Angels hitters in order until he plunked Howie Kendrick to start the seventh.
Gaudin lowered his ERA from 2.53 to 1.96 and finished with four strikeouts and two walks. Huston Street finished for his third save in as many chances.
Manager Bob Geren asked Gaudin—in the rotation since right-hander Esteban Loaiza started the year on the disabled list with a neck injury—after the seventh if he was fine to go out for the eighth, and Gaudin gave the skipper a resounding yes.
He had pitched well enough to win in his two previous outings this year.
“You keep pitching well and the wins will come,” Gaudin said. “You can’t let that enter your mind.”
The A’s, coming off their first series win of the season against the New York Yankees, managed only five hits but they were timely. Oakland lost two of three to the Angels on the road in their second series of the year.
Weaver (0-1) allowed four runs, three earned, and four hits in six innings, struck out four and walked two in a strong first outing. He threw 99 pitches and was frustrated with surrendering Crosby’s first homer.
“I wouldn’t even call it a bad pitch. I’d call it a stupid pitch,” Weaver said.
He came off the disabled list before the game after recovering from biceps tendinitis in his throwing arm. He did not pitch for the Angels all spring, then went 1-0 with an 0.82 ERA in two starts spanning 11 innings for Class-A Rancho Cucamonga.
He retired the side in order in the first and third innings, allowing a single and a walk in the second but getting through it unscathed.
Ellis returned to the A’s lineup after sitting two games with a sore left shoulder blade after being hit by a pitch in Friday’s 5-4, 11-inning win over the Yankees.
Flags were at half-staff and a moment of silence was held before the national anthem in remembrance of those who died in the Virginia Tech shooting a day earlier. … Kendrick will have X-rays on his injured left hand Wednesday. … First-pitch temperature was 51 degrees, but the first 10,000 fans were fortunate enough to get a yellow fleece blanket giveaway. … A’s CF Milton Bradley (hamstring) missed his fifth straight game.