OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) – Bartolo Colon worked through the Texas Rangers’ powerful batting order in a hurry. Colby Lewis hung tough and matched Oakland’s hard-throwing right-hander most of the night.
Colon pitched eight scoreless innings, Yoenis Cespedes finished a home run shy of hitting for the cycle, drove in run and scored, and the Athletics handed the Rangers their first shutout of the season with a 2-0 win Wednesday night.
“He has what it takes. He’s thrown a lot of innings,” Texas’ Nelson Cruz said of Colon. “He had command of his fastball to get ahead. We have to be more consistent. We have to figure out a way to do what we need to do.”
Brandon Inge hit an RBI single in the second and Colon won for the second time in his last nine outings to improve to 18-6 in 28 starts against Texas — his most wins against any opponent.
“He has a lot of wins against them and that gives him confidence,” Cespedes said.
The right-hander (5-6) was backed by just enough run support in this outing after the A’s were blanked his last time out at Kansas City on Friday — the third time Oakland hasn’t scored a run in one of his outings.
Lewis (4-5) had a rare loss against his former Oakland club despite eight strong innings for his fourth career complete game. The right-hander is 7-4 in 19 appearances and 17 starts against the A’s — and he’d been 5-0 over his previous seven starts in the rivalry.
Lewis is 5-2 with a 2.56 ERA in 10 career starts at Oakland.
“I just go out and try to keep the team in the game as long as I can. It is what it is,” Lewis said. “I felt like I threw the ball pretty good.”
A night after bouncing back from Monday’s 12-1 rout with a 6-3 victory, Texas struggled at the plate again and couldn’t do much of anything against the hard-throwing Colon. It was Texas’ first shutout since Sept. 16, 2011, by Seattle.
“We had our opportunity in the second but we hit into a double play. From that point on Colby and Bartolo Colon loaded up the strike zone and made quick work of the hitters,” Rangers manager Ron Washington said. “He kept us off the fat part of the bat and we couldn’t do anything offensively. We couldn’t muster anything against him. He’s still smart. He still knows what he’s doing.”
Even Adrian Beltre was stymied, going 0 for 4 after he came into the game with 17 hits and 13 RBIs off Colon, who retired the final 11 Rangers hitters he faced.
He allowed five hits in eight innings, struck out five and walked one in an impressive 100-pitch performance for one of his best outings since joining the A’s in January on a $2 million, one-year contract. He threw 77 pitches for strikes. Brian Fuentes completed the five-hit shutout in 2 hours, 4 minutes with a 1-2-3 ninth for his fifth save in seven chances. It was the shortest game in the American League this season.
“It takes a lot of poise and guts to get through that ninth when the starter is pitching a game like that,” Melvin said.
The Rangers lost for the ninth time in their last 13 games versus the AL West.
They missed a scoring chance in the second with the bases loaded and one out, but Colon got No. 9 hitter Mitch Moreland to ground into an inning-ending double play. Texas hit into another double play in the third and Colon didn’t allow another baserunner beyond first.
“It’s very important when you’re pitching to make those double plays so the rhythm stays fast,” Colon said.
Cespedes matched his season high with three hits and dazzling with his glove by making sliding catch in left field.
“When he has a good offensive night, it feels like we win,” manager Bob Melvin said.
Cespedes doubled and scored in the second, hit an RBI single in the fourth and tripled in the sixth during Oakland’s sixth shutout of the year. The Cuban slugger and cleanup hitter is batting .375 (9 for 24) with a home run and five RBIs in six starts since coming off the disabled last Friday after recovering from a left hand injury.
“I’m not 100 percent, but I’m close. I’m getting stronger,” he said, noting he didn’t think about the cycle because, “I have many games and many opportunities to do it.”
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