ANAHEIM — Paul Blackburn’s pitching style probably doesn’t wow A’s fans.
To appreciate his work, however, just look at the score and the position the A’s are in when he leaves the game.
The rookie turned in another stellar outing Saturday night, working 6 2/3 scoreless innings and setting the A’s up nicely for a 5-0 victory to snap a string of seven consecutive losses at Angel Stadium.
What an odd route the A’s took offensively. Their biggest hit of the night came from catcher and No. 9 hitter Dustin Garneau, who singled home two runs in his first game as an Athletic.
They got another run when Mark Canha swiped home on a double-steal attempt in the sixth, the A’s first steal of home since Carlos Gonzalez did it more than nine years ago.
The constant was Blackburn (3-1), who notched his fifth quality start in seven major league outings and lowered his ERA from 3.05 to 2.60. He held the Angels to five hits and didn’t issue a walk. He struck out just one, instead keeping his defenders busy and limiting the hard contact off the Angels’ bats.
He’s just the fourth pitcher in Oakland history to throw more than five innings in each of his first seven games, joining Willie Adams, A.J. Griffin and Bill Krueger.
Here’s five things to know as the A’s evened this three-game series at a game apiece:
RAJAI ON THE RUN: The veteran speedster continued his inspired play of late, going 2-for-5 and stealing three bases from the leadoff spot. He wasted no time, singling in the first, then stealing second and third and scoring on a wild pitch. Davis is hitting .339 with 15 runs and 13 stolen bases over his past 23 games. Yet he wasn’t the A’s biggest story on the base paths …
CANHA PULLS A SURPRISE: Davis was on first and Mark Canha on third when the A’s pulled a double steal in the sixth. Catcher Martin Maldanado’s throw went through to second, and Canha broke for home, executing the A’s first steal of home since Carlos Gonzalez did it June 22, 2008 against the Marlins.
THE NEW GUY CONTRIBUTES: Not only was Garneau calling pitches for the A’s fourth shutout of the sason, he chipped in with a two-out two-run single in the fourth that extended the A’s lead to 3-0. Garneau was claimed off waivers from Colorado on Friday, and he’s from Orange County, so it was a big night for him.
KEEPING THINGS IN CHECK: The Angels top five hitters can do some damage, but A’s pitchers held them to a 4-for-20 night combined. That included a quiet 1-for-4 night from noted A’s killer Mike Trout.
MAKING AN APPEARANCE: A’s bench coach Mark Kotsay, on a leave of absence while he spends time with his daughter Sienna during a medical issue, joined the A’s on Saturday and will also be on hand Sunday. He lives in nearby Rancho Santa Fe. Sienna Kotsay was hit by a tennis ball in her right eye and was experiencing partial vision loss in the eye. Her vision is improving, but there’s still no timetable for Kotsay to rejoin the A’s full-time.