OAKLAND, Calif. (AP)—Kyle Kendrick never thought about a shutout. He was happy with the win.
Kendrick pitched eight strong innings, allowing only four hits in the longest start of his career, to help the Philadelphia Phillies end a season-worst, six-game losing streak with a 4-0 victory over the Oakland Athletics on Wednesday night.
“It was nice when we scored in the first,” Kendrick said. “That kept things pretty loose. Everything was pretty smooth until the eighth. It felt like I threw more pitches then the rest of the game.”
Chase Utley, batting second for the first time this season, snapped out of a slump with a season-high 4-for-5 performance as the first-place Phillies finally gained ground in the NL East for the first time in nearly two weeks.
“We haven’t been playing that well,” Utley said. “A lot of credit tonight has to go to Kyle. It was good to see that kind of performance.”
Kendrick (7-3) didn’t allow a hit until Jack Hannahan’s ground-rule double in the fifth.
“Each inning we were trying to figure out exactly what he was throwing,” A’s manager Bob Geren said. “Hitters were coming back saying they weren’t getting much over the middle of the plate. He was sinking the ball well, living on the corners and showing good command.”
Kendrick retired 13 of the first 14 batters; 11 in a row after walking Jack Cust in the first inning. The right-hander walked one and struck out four. J.C. Romero pitched the ninth to preserve the win for Kendrick, who gave up a season-high six runs in three innings in his last start and had allowed six of his 11 home runs in his previous four starts.
“My command was good throwing inside to the left-handers,” said Kendrick, who threw a career-high 113 pitches. “You have to throw inside to get them moving a little and I was using my sinker and slider.”
Greg Smith (4-6) pitched 5 2-3 innings, giving up four runs on seven hits. He walked two and struck out three, while receiving support of a run or less for the eighth time in 15 starts.
“For some reason, whether it’s the grind of the season, I have been fighting myself; overthinking,” Smith said. “I just need to focus on my work between starts. I can only do what I’m capable of doing.”
Phillies manager Charlie Manuel shook up the lineup, batting Jimmy Rollins third, Ryan Howard fifth and Shane Victorino seventh for the first time this season. Eric Brunlett made his first career start, and just his second ever appearance, at first base. While with the Houston Astros, he replaced Lance Berkman late in the game on Aug. 20, 2005.
Utley had one hit in his previous 29 at-bats entering play. He came within a home run of the cycle.
“I wasn’t trying to do too much,” Utley said. “I was just trying to put a good swing on the ball. We had a lot of guys on base tonight and it’s better than not having anyone on base at all.”
Burrell’s sacrifice fly in the first put the Phillies on top. Feliz tripled home a run and scored on Coste’s sacrifice fly in the fourth to make it 3-0.
With two outs in the sixth, Victorino bunted safely and then raced around to score on Coste’s short fly that fell just in front of Carlos Gonzalez for a single.
A’s 2B Mark Ellis was back in the lineup after missing a day with a virus. … Utley and Jayson Werth recorded a double steal in the first inning and the Phillies stole another base in the eighth and have been successful in 22 consecutive attempts. … Utley has 473 career at bats as the No. 2 hitter. … Smith leads AL rookies with 67 strikeouts. … Only two A’s—Hannahan and Kurt Suzuki—reached as far as second base against Kendrick. … Phillies OF Geoff Jenkins flew out in his only plate appearance and is now hitless in his last 23 at bats. … The Phillies recorded their fifth shutout, matching their total of last year.