On Tuesday night at McAfee Coliseum, he landed squarely in the spotlight, squaring off not only with his former team but with rookie sensation Daisuke Matsuzaka in front of a bipartisan crowd of more than 31,000.
And with six innings of what offensive hero Eric Chavez called "effectively wild" work, DiNardo landed in the win column as a starter for the first time since May 7, 2006.
Chavez homered for the second night in a row, Nick Swisher added an RBI double, four relievers were near perfect and the A's turned five double plays on the way to a victory in the second game of a four-game series.
The win pushed the A's, who have won a season-high four in a row for the second time this year, three games over .500 for the first time under rookie manager Bob Geren.
"It was a great game," Geren said. "That's a good team over there, and to go up 2-0 in a series against a team of that caliber is real good for us."
DiNardo allowed just two hits, but he walked six and needed four double plays to keep the powerful Sox off the board. Three of those double plays ended innings -- the fourth, fifth and sixth.
"It wasn't really a picturesque outing," DiNardo said. "But we played some solid defense, and I made some pitches when I needed to."
He's underselling the help he got a tad, but DiNardo doesn't do overstatement. Hence the refusal to gloat over beating the team for which he played in parts of the 2004, 2005 and 2006 seasons.
"I learned a lot with them and I got a World Series ring with them," he said. "I'm not trying to rub it in or anything. ... My ERA last year with them was [7.85] and I was hurt most of the time. If you look at it like that, it was probably a good business decision on their part."
Besides, DiNardo was far from the only juicy storyline Tuesday. Facing Matsuzaka for the first time, Chavez went 2-for-4 and belted a high-and-outside fastball to the opposite field in the fourth inning, giving him four homers and seven RBIs in eight games on a homestand that he entered mired in a deep slump.
"He's like everybody else, really," Chavez said of Matsuzaka. "He's trying to get you out."
Outs came every which way in this one, as anyone who denotes significant or highlight-reel defensive plays with a star on their scorecard was left with a virtual galaxy by game's end.
Shortstop Bobby Crosby, second baseman Mark Ellis and left fielder Travis Buck each made down-and-dirty plays and Chavez started a pair of 5-3 twin killings.
"I think that was just a credit to Lenny," Chavez said of the defense. "He was a little wild at times, and I think that helped him. He kind of had them off-balance."
The four relievers that followed DiNardo had considerably more success finding the strike zone, teaming for three innings of one-hit work just one walk. And interim closer Alan Embree, who blew a two-run lead in the ninth Monday night, was perfect in the same situation to pick up his fifth save in six chances.
"You always want to get right back on the horse," Embree said. "It feels good to be in that situation and come through this time."
Added Geren: "I said this spring that it was going to take every guy on this team for us to have success, and that's exactly what's happening. ... Just a really fun night."