OAKLAND, Calif. (AP)—Dan Haren felt out of sorts—and he still won.
That’s how good the Oakland ace has been this season. The Athletics have found some interesting ways to pull out close games, too, with Haren the latest beneficiary.
That saved the day for Haren, who won his ninth straight decision and third consecutive start despite giving up two home runs in a game for the second time this year.
“I’m more proud of it after the game,” Haren said. “I really didn’t have good stuff. I was fighting myself. I put us in a hole.”
Shannon Stewart added a solo homer in the eighth. Jack Cust’s two-run shot in the fourth put the A’s on the board, and Oakland took advantage of its chances once Reds starter Matt Belisle was out of the game.
“We need to get big outs late in the ballgame from someone besides Dave Weathers,” Reds manager Jerry Narron said. “We’re very close to being a good ballclub. We just need to get outs when we need them.”
Oakland bounced back from a disappointing interleague series loss to the St. Louis Cardinals last weekend with its 22nd victory of 2007 by two or fewer runs.
But Haren recovered and the Oakland offense did just enough to keep him from his first loss since a 2-1 defeat to the rival Los Angeles Angels on April 7 in his second start of the year.
“Dan’s always going to keep us in the game,” Cust said. “It’s uncharacteristic that he let up three runs early. After that happens, it’s definitely nice to pick him up and get us back in the game.”
Haren had allowed only six home runs all year and came in with the majors’ lowest ERA at 1.64 before giving up the two homers. The Boston Red Sox also hit two against him June 4 in the Coliseum—by David Ortiz and Wily Mo Pena.
“I think I might have lost my edge for a minute or two, and that’s all it takes,” Haren said. “Maybe I was being a little bit of a baby about it.”
The right-hander got a 1-2-3 first inning featuring two strikeouts but didn’t have another perfect inning until the fifth.
Alan Embree worked two perfect innings with three strikeouts for his eighth save in nine opportunities.
Reds right fielder Norris Hopper saved the potential tying run with a great throw home in the fifth on a single by Swisher to get Kotsay, who had doubled for the second time in the game.
The Reds won their first regular-season game against the A’s in eight tries with a 5-2 victory Tuesday night and appeared headed for another one after Belisle pitched six effective innings.
Now, Cincinnati continues its 11-day, nine-game road trip with a visit to Seattle starting Friday. It will be Ken Griffey Jr.’s first return to the Emerald City in eight seasons with the Reds since leaving the Mariners after the 1999 season.
Griffey went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts a day after he hit his 582nd career home run and No. 19 this season. He will have Thursday’s off day in Seattle to catch up with old friends.
Belisle, facing the A’s for the first time in his career, allowed two runs, one earned, and four hits. He walked four.
“I have to control the long ball a little more,” he said. “My ball was running right off the plate and I was trying to be too fine. I shouldn’t do that.”
Griffey’s first K in the first inning was No. 500 of Haren’s career. … The A’s activated RF Milton Bradley from his third stint on the disabled list this season and he was back in the starting lineup. Oakland made roster room by optioning infielder J.J. Furmaniak to Triple-A Sacramento. … The Reds and A’s split their two World Series meetings, with Oakland winning in seven games in 1972 and Cincinnati sweeping four games in 1990.