OAKLAND -- Like a fine Dominican wine, Bartolo Colon is only getting better with age. The 40-year-old ace tossed eight efficient innings Friday evening, leading the A's to a 6-1 win over the Cardinals that punctuated Oakland's statistical first half of the 2013 season.
After 81 games played, the A's are 13 games over .500 at 47-34 and a half game behind the first-place Texas Rangers in the AL West.
Colon is a big reason why. Friday marked his eighth win in as many starts, as he became the first Athletic to win eight straight starts since Barry Zito did so in 2005. (While Colon was matching his streak, Zito was getting lit up for 10 hits and the loss in Colorado.)
The A's upped their all-time interleague record to 162-132 -- fifth best in the majors -- and advanced their all-time regular season record against the Cardinals to 3-7.
The Coliseum is a friendly place for the A's right now. Oakland is 15-2 in its last 17 home games, while scoring 71 runs and allowing just 33.
Starting pitcher report
Since Bartolo Colon turned 40 years old on May 24, MLB batters have been no match for the wily veteran. On Friday, Colon became the first pitcher in Major League history to win each of his first seven starts in his forties.
Colon is one of four American League pitchers putting themselves in position to start the All-Star Game on July 16 in New York, and he helped his cause against the Cardinals and their NL-best .275 team batting average.
Colon showed how he's remained effective in the majors for over 16 years -- movement and great location. He expertly mixed four- and two-seam fastballs with change-ups and the occasional slider to keep the heavy-hitting Cardinals off balance all evening.
Colon needed just 42 pitches to complete four perfect innings, but a fifth-inning walk to Matt Holliday shook his focus. Consecutive singles from Matt Adams and David Freese followed, and ended any premature thoughts of no-hitters or shutouts.
Colon erased singles from Cardinals leadoff hitter Matt Carpenter by inducing double play balls from the National League's best hitter, Yadier Molina, in the sixth and eighth innings.
His final line: 8 IP, 6 H, ER, BB, 5 K, 101 P, W.
Former Giants reliever Dan Otero closed out the game with a harmless ninth that included a base hit from Matt Holliday that the Coliseum did not appreciate.
At the plate
Cardinals starter Shelby Miller entered the game comfortably leading MLB rookies with a 2.35 ERA. He left less than two innings later, barely clinging to that honor.
The A's drew first blood with a monster second inning, coaxing a 51-pitch, five-run frame from Miller, whose ERA ballooned to nearly 2.80.
Oakland sent 10 batters to the plate in the second, as Yoenis Cespedes book-ended the inning with a leadoff base hit to get things going and a sharp line drive directly to shortstop Pete Kozma to end the nightmare for St. Louis.
In between, the A's got run-scoring hits from Josh Donaldson, Josh Reddick, Seth Smith and Jed Lowrie and chased Miller from the game after 61 total pitches and 1 2/3 innings. Lowrie and Reddick each rapped doubles into the right-field corner, while Donaldson and Smith each worked the count full before delivering.
Stephen Vogt won't get to keep his first MLB hit, but it probably isn't bothering him. The A's catcher connected on an 0-2 fastball to lead off the fourth inning, depositing a souvenir into the right-field stands for a 6-0 A's lead. The home run snapped Vogt's career 0-for-32 skid, and you got the feeling it was coming when he sent a well-hit drive to the center-field warning track in his first at-bat.
Cespedes and Lowrie have now hit safely in all 10 of the A's interleague games this year, and Donaldson upped his interleague average to .447 (17-for-38).
The A's, who led the majors in walks with 307 entering the game, drew another six Friday, led by three from nine-hitter Eric Sogard.
In the field
The A's made all the routine plays behind the fast-working Colon.
The crowd appreciated Coco Crisp's full-extension effort on a shallow fly ball from Matt Adams in the fifth, but the fleet-footed center fielder was unable to make the Golden Great grab. A play later, Jed Lowrie's dive up the middle left him just short of an RBI single from David Freese.
Colon clapped when Josh Donaldson initiated a double play after Matt Carpenter led off the sixth inning with a single.
Two innings later, it was Lowrie who began a pretty double play, ranging to his right before throwing off-balance and on target to Eric Sogard for the transfer.
The A's announced a paid attendance of 24,208 Friday night, which did not include more than 800 dogs who graced the field for the pregame "pup parade."
San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh watched from the lower box, sporting a big smile under his A's hat.
Former A's and Cardinals manager Tony LaRussa was also in attendance, saying his rooting interest was "with the St. Louis Athletics or the Oakland Cardinals."
The A's and Cardinals take the field for a Saturday matinee in Game 2 of the three-game series that will see right-handed pitchers Adam Wainwright (10-5, 2.31) and Jarrod Parker (6-6, 4.27) go head-to-head.