At last: Offense stakes Outman handily

At last: Offense stakes Outman

OAKLAND -- Right before Josh Outman took the mound for his first big league start, Athletics manager Bob Geren paid him a visit.

"He just told me, 'Go out and have fun,' and that's all I tried to do, go out and make the most of the experience," the rookie left-hander said.

Effectively mixing breaking pitches with a 95-mph fastball, Outman pitched five strong innings and Jack Cust homered to help the A's break out of their offensive slump with a 7-1 victory Saturday over the Rangers.

"First Major League start and get a win," Outman said. "It doesn't get much better than that. I just had command of my pitches, threw my breaking balls for strikes and that's the key for me."

Outman, the 12th pitcher to start a game for the A's this season and the fifth rookie, allowed one run on four hits while striking out three and walking two. The performance punctuated a whirlwind ascent for Outman, who began the year in Philadelphia's Minor League system as a reliever. Acquired by the A's on July 17, he split time in the bullpen and the rotation at Double-A Midland and Triple-A Sacramento before being recalled on Sept. 2.

"I was feeling pretty low before I got traded, but my agent and my family kept telling me this is a good thing," Outman said. "Once I got settled in at Midland, I moved up in a hurry, and it's been an incredible experience thus far. I think everything looks bright for my future, and I think Oakland is going to give me every opportunity to succeed."

Geren said he was especially impressed with the way Outman held down Texas' powerful offense.

"I thought that he went through some of their big guys, and he showed incredible velocity and pitched both sides of the plate very well," Geren said.

Outman also benefited from a bullpen that pitched four scoreless innings and a great defensive play after Ryan Sweeney slipped in right field going after Nelson Cruz's run-scoring double in the second inning. Sweeney recovered to quickly track the ball down and got it in to second baseman Cliff Pennington, whose on-the-money relay nailed Hank Blalock at the plate to prevent a second run from scoring.

"You can't do anything about slipping," Outman said. "It's just something that happens, but he did a very good job of getting the ball and Pennington's throw -- you can't make a better throw than that."

The defense, pitching and hitting came together to help the A's bounce back from consecutive losses to the Rangers, including a 7-0 loss Friday night that marked the 10th time this season they had been shut out.

Cust snapped the A's 15-inning scoreless streak when he connected for his 29th homer, a two-run shot off Scott Feldman (5-7), in the fourth inning.

The A's added five more runs in the fifth. Rajai Davis singled with one out to start the rally, and Cliff Pennington and Cust walked around a flyout by Sweeney to load the bases. Aaron Cunningham then hit a two-run single. After reliever Luis Mendoza intentionally walked Daric Barton to reload the bases, Bobby Crosby cleared them with a double to right.

"We've been struggling, but some guys came through today and we got some runs on the board for our pitcher and our team," Cunningham said. "It's definitely nice to get the 'W.'"

In the fourth, Texas designated hitter Milton Bradley was ejected after an argument with first-base umpire Angel Campos. Bradley was disputing being called out as part of a double play. A former member of the A's, Bradley trudged off the field and into the clubhouse, raising his arms to acknowledge the cascade of boos from the crowd. The ejection was Bradley's fourth of the season.

Dennis Georgatos is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.