A’s beat Orioles for fourth straight win
BALTIMORE – The next time Vin Mazzaro is used as a starting pitcher, it might be nice if he found out about it more than three hours before game time.
Then again, judging by his performance against the Baltimore Orioles on Tuesday night, it could be to Mazzaro’s advantage to pitch on short notice.
Mazzaro allowed three hits in six-plus innings, Kurt Suzuki had three RBIs and the Oakland Athletics beat the Orioles 4-2 for their fourth straight win.
After Oakland starter Dallas Braden was scratched because of elbow stiffness, Mazzaro (3-2) was pressed into action as a late substitute. Fortunately for the right-hander, he was pitching on five days’ rest following a solid start against Cincinnati on June 23.
“Actually, it was his day to pitch, so physically he was ready to go,” A’s manager Bob Geren said.
Mazzaro gave up one run, walked six and struck out two. It wasn’t his finest performance, but given the circumstances, he couldn’t complain.
“It’s not easy three hours before the game to be told you’re starting, but I was ready. And I’m a competitor,” he said. “It would be nice to get a heads-up, but whatever.”
The A’s hope to have Braden back by Saturday, but he didn’t sound optimistic.
“I woke up and my elbow looked like a right triangle. It was just up and stiff,” said Braden, winless since throwing a perfect game against Tampa Bay on May 9. “It’s not painful. There’s just no flexibility. … I can’t make 17 more starts, or however many we’ve got left. You can’t pitch that way and I’m not doing my team a favor and I’m not doing myself any good.”
After Mazzaro departed, four relievers followed. Andrew Bailey worked a perfect ninth for his 15th save.
Coco Crisp had three hits, stole two bases and scored twice for the A’s, whose winning streak matches their season high. Since returning from the disabled list a week ago, Crisp is 10 for 22 (.455) with nine runs scored in six games.
“He’s just been outstanding,” Geren said.
Cesar Izturis and Luke Scott had RBIs for the Orioles, whose season-high four-game winning streak ended.
Baltimore starter Brian Matusz (2-9) allowed three runs and seven hits in 6 1-3 innings. The rookie is 0-9 in 13 starts since April 18.
“I’m frustrated now but I’m not going to carry it over to tomorrow,” the lefty said. “I’ll prepare for my next start and let it go. Because if I start worrying about that, it’s not going to make things any easier.”
Asked if he just hasn’t gotten a break, Matusz replied, “That’s how it goes sometimes. You can’t control that. Things haven’t gone my way.”
The Orioles closed to 2-1 during a testy fifth inning that began when Julio Lugo was hit in the back by Mazzaro’s pitch and angrily took two steps toward the mound. Lugo was angry because Matusz hit Daric Barton with a pitch in the top half.
“I don’t know if it was on purpose or not,” Lugo said. “It just doesn’t look good.”
Mazzaro said, “I was just trying to go in. I had him 1-1. I’m not trying to bag him, I’m trying to get him out.”
After Lugo backed off, Izturis argued that a pitch from Mazzaro hit him on the foot. Plate umpire Fieldin Culbreth said it didn’t, so Izturis got back in the box and lined an RBI double to left.
Oakland added a run in the seventh. After Matusz gave up a one-out single to Barton, Jason Berken walked Conor Jackson and yielded an RBI single to Suzuki.
Doubles by Nick Markakis and Scott made it 3-2 with one out in the eighth, but Adam Jones and Lugo stranded the potential tying run at second base.
A double by Crisp and an RBI single by Jackson provided Oakland with an insurance run in the ninth.
The Orioles had a chance to break on top in the second inning, but Scott was thrown out at the plate trying to score from third on a fly to right fielder Rajai Davis.
In the third, Oakland used singles by Cliff Pennington, Crisp and Suzuki to take a 1-0 lead. A triple by Crisp and a run-scoring grounder by Suzuki made it 2-0 in the fifth.
NOTES: The A’s (6-2) clinched the season series for the 11th time in 12 years. … Baltimore went 2 for 11 with runners in scoring position. … Davis ended a career-high 0-for-19 skid with a fourth-inning single. … Oakland had a season-high four steals.
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