BY SEAN WATKINS
Oakland defeated the defending champion Los Angeles Dodgers 4-3 on Wednesday afternoon to end their season opening six-game losing streak with a walk-off single from newly acquired Mitch Moreland and strong pitching from Jesus Luzardo against reigning NL Cy Young winner Trevor Bauer.
The A’s pitching staff showed progress as they were able to limit their opponent to less than five runs for the first time this season. Luzardo finished the game allowing five hits and two runs while striking out six through 5 1/3 innings.
After giving up an RBI single to AJ Pollack and throwing 35 pitches in the first, Luzardo struggled to find the strike zone early in the game. However, he was able to find his rhythm as he retired eight consecutive batters, including a dazzling play by Seth Brown robbing a home run from Austin Barnes.
Trevor Bauer was nearly unhittable throughout his first six innings, allowing just a run on one hit with eight strikeouts in that span, but Oakland managed to keep the game close despite his strong performance.
In the top of the 7th, Justin Turner hit an RBI double off Sergio Romo to give the Dodgers a 3-1 lead. Matt Chapman quickly responded in the bottom of the inning with a solo homer off Bauer to deep left center. Bauer left the game after 6 2/3 innings, allowing two runs on three hits with 10 strikeouts.
Oakland was able to capitalize late in the game thanks to newly acquired Elvis Andrus and Mitch Moreland. Andrus tied the game in the 9th on a sacrifice fly against Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen. In the bottom of the 10th, Moreland connected on a line drive to right center with runners on first and third for the walk-off single to win the game 4-3.
After the game, Moreland spoke on the walk-off hit and the rough start to the season. “I think it’s kind of a do-or-die situation right there, just trying to get a good pitch and put a good swing on it. It’s not the start we wanted but getting that one helps. Believe it or not, I feel like with the slow start, it made our chemistry even better.”
A’s manager Bob Melvin discussed how he was impressed with Luzardo’s composure after a rough start. “That outing after having to deal with what he did in the first inning, to get as far as he did was fantastic. That’s really taking it to a new gear with the fact that he had such a rough first, and the next thing you know, he’s pitching close to six innings.”
The A’s now hit the road and head to Houston for a rematch against the Astros, as they’ll look to rebound from their first meeting and close the gap on the division leaders. Cole Irvin will take the mound against Lance McCullers Thursday evening in the opener of a three-game set.
The Dodgers left the bases loaded three times during the game, in the 1st, 7th and 9th inning.
Jesus Luzardo exited the game with a career-high 104 pitches thrown.
Bob Melvin hopes to have Matt Olson back in the lineup within the next couple days.
The A’s 0-6 start matched the 1916 Philadelphia Athletics for the worst start in franchise history.