Cust, Holiday homer in A’s win |

Cust, Holiday homer in A’s win

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) – The Oakland Athletics have gotten solid pitching the past two weeks. Their offense is finally starting to catch up.

Jack Cust and Matt Holiday hit three-run homers, Dallas Braden matched his career high with seven strikeouts and the A’s beat the Baltimore Orioles 9-1 on Friday night.

“Any time a pitcher gets one run of support early he would like to think that that should be enough for the night,” Braden said. “That’s not always the case, but six runs puts you in a good spot, lets you attack your game plan at will.”

Every Oakland starter except Jason Giambi had at least one hit and all but two scored. Aaron Cunningham drove in two runs, and Adam Kennedy had a pair of hits and scored twice to help the A’s extend their winning streak to a season-high four games.

Braden (5-5) scattered five hits and allowed one run over five innings while improving to 4-1 against Baltimore. He had seven strikeouts for the fifth time in his career and didn’t walk anyone for the second time this season.

“It’s nice to see the offense take off, especially early,” Oakland manager Bob Geren said. “It really let (Braden) settle in and pound the strike zone, which he did. I like everything he did tonight.”

The four-game streak is Oakland’s longest since winning four straight from Sept. 19-22, 2008. The A’s, who went into the game with the lowest team batting average in the American League, have outscored their opponents 26-4 during that stretch.

However, it’s been Oakland’s pitching that has been the primary key.

The A’s staff combined for a pair of shutouts in the weekend series with the White Sox, then got another solid outing from Braden. The lefty baffled the Orioles most of the evening and allowed only one runner to reach second base through the first six innings. He also started a 1-6-3 double play in the fifth to shut down a potential scoring threat.

Braden’s lone mistake came with two outs in the seventh when he gave up a home run to Luke Scott, ending a 20-inning scoreless streak by A’s pitchers. Edgar Gonzalez and Russ Springer completed the five-hitter.

“These guys are absolutely throwing the snot out of the ball and you just want to go out there and do your job,” Braden said about Oakland’s young pitching staff. “As a whole we want to put together a nice body of work and I think we’re kind of on the right track to doing so.”

Baltimore has dropped five of its last six and is 5-19 in its last 24 road games.

The Orioles also learned before the game that they would be without starting shortstop Cesar Izturis indefinitely after the 29-year-old underwent an emergency appendectomy Friday night. Izturis played in Thursday’s 3-2 loss to Seattle and accompanied his teammates to Oakland but awoke with severe stomach pains and was taken to a hospital, where the diagnosis was made.

The news didn’t get any better for Baltimore once the game started.

Guthrie (4-5) got only two outs, his shortest stint as a starter. The right-hander gave up back-to-back singles before Cust hit Guthrie’s 10th pitch of the game over the wall in right-center for a 3-0 lead.

“I came in with a lot of momentum over the past few innings but I never got into a rhythm of throwing the ball consistently where I wanted,” Guthrie said. “Effectiveness was an issue. It was a disappointing start with terrible results. I hope I can come back and pitch better.”

Cunningham added a two-run single later in the inning and Rajai Davis had a RBI single to chase Guthrie, who left four batters after getting hit on the right forearm near his wrist by a Giambi line drive.

Mark Hendrickson replaced Guthrie and pitched three scoreless innings before stumbling in the fifth, allowing consecutive hits to Kennedy and Cust. Holiday followed with a three-run homer to center to make it 9-0.

Notes: The Orioles released veteran LHP Jamie Walker prior to the game. The 37-year-old Walker had a 5.11 earned run average in 12 1-3 innings and was coming off a horrible appearance in Seattle on Tuesday. LHP Alberton Castillo was called up from Triple-A Norfolk to take Walker’s spot. … A’s OF Ryan Sweeney had an MRI on his left knee Friday. He hasn’t played since crashing into the outfield wall in Chicago on Tuesday.