Gio's career outing propels A's to victory

Gio's career outing propels A's to victory

OAKLAND -- Talk about a quality fifth starter.

Gio Gonzalez, who started the season in the No. 5 spot in the Oakland rotation, looked more like an ace on Saturday, as he paced the A's to a 1-0 victory over the Giants.

  • 134 wins
  • 118 wins

Gonzalez tossed a career-high eight shutout innings -- needing 95 pitches to do so -- while allowing just two hits and a walk and recording five strikeouts. Although he finished his afternoon by retiring 20 straight batters, Gonzalez didn't get a chance to finish out the game.

A's manager Bob Geren instead elected to go with closer Andrew Bailey, who allowed a pair of baserunners before striking Bengie Molina out to end the game.

"[Gonzalez] went through the lineup three times," Geren said. "Asking somebody to go through the lineup a fourth time at the 100-pitch mark when you have a fresh, outstanding closer -- it was not a decision."

Gonzalez, true to his humble form, had no qualms with his manager about the decision.

"Andrew Bailey is the perfect guy for that situation," Gonzalez said. "He did a great job. It was exciting all the way to the end. He put the crowd on its feet, and that's the guy you want to put up there to shut it down."

Geren said it wasn't tempting to keep Gonzalez in the game. Geren said he simply told Gonzalez his afternoon was over after the eighth inning.

According to his teammates, Gonzalez's control was the key to his success Saturday. For just the second time all season, Gonzalez issued fewer than two walks while throwing at least five innings. He didn't allow a runner to reach third base all afternoon.

"He's pretty tough when he's throwing everything for strikes," said Giants outfielder John Bowker. "At least with me, he was getting that curveball over and working the outside of the plate. He has a really big breaking curveball with a lot of break on it, to go with that 92-93 [mph fastball]."

For the game, Gonzalez faced three batters over the minimum. Per usual, though, Gonzalez deflected the praise toward his defense and catcher Kurt Suzuki.

For the first time in 25 games, the A's featured a different starting infield, thanks to the return of second baseman Mark Ellis. As a result, Adam Rosales, who had replaced Ellis during his stint on the disabled list, moved to third base, spelling Kevin Kouzmanoff.

Rosales had a fine day in the field, accounting for four assists.

"We knew when we got him that he had incredible versatility," Geren said. "He's played solid everywhere I've put him. What I was really impressed with -- though you don't see it at second base so much -- is his arm strength. You really see that at third. ... He's got a heck of an arm."

Rosales concurred, saying his arm is his top asset. He also said he felt completely comfortable at third, as he played there plenty during the past two seasons with Cincinnati's Triple-A affiliate in Louisville. He also played 57 games at third with the Reds last season.

"I don't care where I play," Rosales said. "It's just great playing, man. It's just great being out there."

Though Ellis went 0-for-3 in his return to the big league club, he said he felt 100 percent physically and that his timing in the batter's box still needs a bit more work.

"It does take a minute when you get put in there against big league pitching," Ellis said. "But I felt pretty good. Every at-bat I felt a little bit better, so that's good."

The game's lone run came in the third inning, when A's outfielder Coco Crisp delivered a sacrifice fly to left field, plating Rosales.

After Gonzalez exited the game, the Giants were able to make it a bit interesting in the ninth against Bailey. The game reached its fever pitch during Pablo Sandoval's 10-pitch at-bat.

With two outs and a runner on, Sandoval started off the duel by taking a couple of hearty swings against Bailey. After fouling off four pitches, Sandoval eventually drew a walk. At one point during the at-bat, Suzuki approached the mound to calm Bailey down, telling him an issued walk wasn't necessarily a bad idea.

"That's what Zuk brings to the table -- just knowledge of the game," Bailey said. "A lot of times, pitchers get caught up in the moment, kind of like I was. You're just battling with a guy and trying to throw it harder or put it in a better spot."

Bailey regrouped after Sandoval's walk, though, getting Giants catcher Bengie Molina to wave at an outside fastball to end the game.

"We would rather have won, 11-0," Geren said. "But when you can limit a team to no runs only using two pitchers, that's pretty impressive."

Alex Espinoza is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.