Cust, Davis homer to beat Dodgers
LOS ANGELES (AP) – The Oakland Athletics played one of their worst defensive games of the season, and their starter came within one pitch of walking four straight batters in the first inning.
Somehow, everything turned out all right.
Rajai Davis and Jack Cust homered in the third, rookie Trevor Cahill overcame his early bout of wildness and Oakland snapped a four-game skid with a 5-4 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Wednesday night despite giving up three unearned runs.
“We were very fortunate to win the game,” manager Bob Geren said. “Almost all of their runs came from errors. There’s been so many times this year when I’ve said we played good enough to win and fell short. Tonight, we really didn’t play that well and won. Our defense let us down, but we’ll take it.”
Cahill (4-5) held the team with baseball’s best record to two unearned runs and four hits in 5 1-3 innings. The 21-year-old righty retired his first two batters, then walked the next three while throwing 12 straight pitches out of the strike zone – including the first three to Andre Ethier, who popped out on a 3-1 delivery.
“It was something I battled the whole game,” Cahill said. “I just couldn’t get in a groove and couldn’t get locked in. Mostly, I was trying to concentrate on what I was doing wrong and trying to make whatever adjustment I needed to.”
Cahill had to sweat it out after handing a 5-2 lead to the bullpen. The Dodgers narrowed the gap to 5-4 in the seventh with Ethier’s two-run single against Brad Ziegler, after Cust dropped Orlando Hudson’s routine fly to right for his second error of the season. But Matt Kemp grounded into an inning-ending double play.
“You’ve got to give Ziegler a lot of credit. In spite of the base hit that put us in position to tie the game, he got the double-play ball,” Dodgers manager Joe Torre said. “We had opportunities, no question. They gave us extra outs, but unfortunately we couldn’t get the big hit.”
Ziegler pitched a scoreless eighth and Andrew Bailey got three outs for his sixth save.
Hiroki Kuroda (1-3) allowed five runs and seven hits over six innings before he was lifted for a pinch hitter.
The Athletics built a 4-0 lead with three runs in the third. Davis led off with a drive to left-center that ended a 50-game homer drought dating to Sept. 5 at Baltimore, when he hit his first career grand slam against reliever Randor Bierd. Cahill, batting for the first time in 3 1/2 seasons of professional ball, followed with a single before Cust drove his 12th homer into the left-field pavilion.
“It looked like he was trying to throw the ball through the wall, and I think that’s the reason for his lack of command” Torre said about Kuroda. “His location wasn’t what he normally has. The home runs were in the middle of the plate, and his command wasn’t as good as it normally is.”
The next time Cust came to the plate, he led off the sixth with a perfect bunt single toward the vacated third base area while the Dodgers’ infield overshifted toward the right side – the third time he’s done that this season. Cust was forced at second on a fielder’s choice grounder by Matt Holliday, who stole second and scored from third on a two-out single by Orlando Cabrera that gave Oakland a 5-1 lead.
Geren approved of Cust’s decision to bunt for a hit in that spot, even though he led the team with 33 homers last season.
“You figure if he gets 600 at-bats and hits 30 home runs, there’s 570 at-bats where he doesn’t hit a home run,” Geren said. “So if you can tell me he’s going to lead off an inning and be on base with no outs, that’s not a bad play. It’s a good thing to have, if you want to utilize it. I mean, he’s a home run hitter and not a bunter. But once in a while, to keep the defense honest, it’s fine.”
The Dodgers scored their first run in the fifth on an RBI single by Hudson after a two-out error by second baseman Adam Kennedy.
NOTES: RHP Jeff Weaver will start Saturday against younger brother Jered when the Dodgers face the Angels in Anaheim. It will be the 21st time in major league history that siblings will start against each other and the first time since Sept. 6, 2002, when the Cardinals’ Andy Benes handed the Cubs and younger brother Alan an 11-2 defeat at St. Louis. … Dodgers closer Jonathan Broxton received a cortisone shot in the big toe on his right foot and wasn’t available to pitch. … Mark Loretta struck out while batting for Kuroda in the sixth and is hitless in his last 14 at-bats as a pinch hitter. He started the season 8 for 13 in those situations. … Dodgers C Russell Martin was 0 for 3 and is 5 for 43 in his last 12 games.