OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- With their offense in a paralyzing funk,
the Oakland Athletics needed strange tactics, a big stroke of luck
and a risky baserunning decision just to score one run.
After Harden and Jarrod Washburn dueled through eight scoreless
innings, Nick Swisher scored from first base on reliever Scot
Shields' throwing error in the 10th inning of the A's 1-0 victory
over the Los Angeles Angels on Saturday.
It was strange to see Marco Scutaro lay down a sacrifice bunt
for the A's, who have all but abandoned the bunt under general
manager Billy Beane's beliefs about the sport. But after Swisher
led off the 10th with a single, Scutaro bunted -- and Shields
bobbled the ball, then made a bouncing throw past Chone Figgins at
Though strong-armed Vladimir Guerrero was chasing down the ball
in right field, Swisher raced for home -- and he slid headfirst into
the plate ahead of the AL MVP's throw.
"Who thinks you're going to go from first to home on a bunt?"
Swisher asked. "It felt like as soon as I hit third base, (on-deck
hitter Mark) Kotsay was telling me to slide. We had to take a shot,
The A's hadn't scored in 14 innings before their extra-inning
rally against Shields (2-1), who threw just six pitches.
"It was my fault," Shields said. "I didn't field the ball
cleanly. I should have slowed down and got a grip on it. I had
plenty of time. If I take my time, I have him, easy."
Oakland has scored just 13 runs in the first five games of its
homestand, winning two.
"It was a goofy play, but we'll take it," said Kotsay, the
only Oakland player batting above .300. "It's no secret our
offense is struggling a little bit, and we've got to do things to
Calero (2-0) pitched two perfect innings of relief for the
victory, while Harden and Washburn got no decisions despite
Harden had eight strikeouts, allowing four hits and two walks in
his second start of the season. Washburn was equally superb, also
allowing four hits and two walks, striking out seven with the same
"Wash and Harden pitched as well as two guys could in the
matchup," said Los Angeles manager Mike Scioscia, who thought
Scutaro might have been in Shields' way while fielding the decisive
Though Harden's first regular-season start was pushed back by a
blister, he has built on a stellar spring in which he led the
Cactus League with 29 strikeouts.
He allowed just two Angels to reach third base while shutting
down the heart of Los Angeles' order: Guerrero, Garret Anderson and
Steve Finley were 0-for-8 with a walk against Harden. Rookie Macier
Izturis twice was stranded on third base.
"I'm not really feeling great yet," Harden said. "My velocity
is down a little bit, but my changeup helps. In the past, I'd just
try to throw the ball by people, but now I'm using more of my
Washburn, who was hit hard by the Texas Rangers on Monday, was
every bit as effective for the Angels, allowing just three runners
to reach second base. Oakland got two runners on board in the first
and third innings, but Washburn stifled the rallies.
"Guys in the dugout were saying, 'Is that guy throwing an
invisiball, or what?" Swisher said.
After Eric Byrnes' two-out single in the eighth, Izturis allowed
Jason Kendall's grounder to roll through his legs at third base.
Byrnes reached third on the error -- but Eric Chavez took a called
third strike on Washburn's 113th pitch.
"A few times, my command wavered, but for the most part, I used
both sides of the plate," Washburn said. "All my pitches were
working. ... (Harden) has an awfully bright future ahead of him. I
wish I had some of his stuff."
A's DH Bobby Kielty had another miserable day, striking out
three times before getting pulled in the ninth. Kielty is 0-for-13
this season. ... Finley continued to struggle, going 0-for-4 with
two strikeouts and grounding into a double play. ... Neither
manager even warmed up a reliever in his bullpen until both
starters had surpassed 100 pitches, and both starters got ovations
from the Coliseum crowd when they escaped their eighth-inning jams.