Balfour on breaking Eck's record: 'I never set out to do this'
Bartolo Colon's final stat line: 7 IP, ER, 7 H, BB, 5 K, WIN. (AP)
Grant Balfour set a franchise record with his 41st consecutive save, prized prospect Grant Green made his major league debut, Bartolo Colon continued his unlikely ascension to the All-Star Game and the A's improved to a season-best 16 games over .500.
The A's beat Pittsburgh, 2-1, Monday in an interleague series opener and Oakland improved to 10-0 all-time against the Pirates, having swept them in Pittsburgh in 2002 and in the East Bay in 2004 and 2010.
It was the 23rd save in 23 opportunities this season for Balfour, who was not chosen for the Midsummer Classic.
"That's a great feat," Balfour said of the mark he previously shared with Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley on A's Postgame Live. "Like I said, I never set out to do this but it just happened this way. Hopefully I can continue to close out ballgames. We're trying to win games here so it's a lot of fun doing it."
Entering the seventh inning, the A's only had one hit -- a Jed Lowrie double, his 27th of the season -- but had scored one run. Lowrie, who hit his double with one out in the fourth, moved to third on a wild pitch. He scored the A's first run on Josh Donaldson's sacrifice fly.
The A's second run came on a two-out, bases-loaded walk to Derek Norris in the seventh.
The A's (53-37) remained in first place in the American League West over Texas with five games to go before the All-Star break.
Starting pitching report
Colon improved to 12-3 while lowering his ERA to 2.69 in allowing one run on seven hits and a walk with five strikeouts in seven innings. He threw 108 pitches, 78 strikes. Perhaps the most memorable image, though, was Colon carrying the bat with him up the first-base line when he grounded out to second base in the sixth.
Ryan Cook must be living right, or did you not see him dodge some major trouble in the eighth? Cook allowed a pair of singles and a passed ball put Pirates at second and third when Clint Barmes hit a rocket to left field…that nestled into the glove of Yoenis Cespedes for the final out of the inning. Balfour worked a perfect 1-2-3 ninth inning to close it out, though Starling Marte flied out to the warning track in left-center for the second out.
At the plate
The A's only had three hits -- the double and a single by Lowrie and a single by Donaldson -- but it was enough. Green, meanwhile, was 0-3 with two strikeouts after starting at second base and batting in the eight hole.
In the field
A case of the yips? With nobody out in the fourth inning and Pedro Alvarez at first, a Russell Martin grounder found its way to Lowrie at shortstop. A 6-4-3 double play was in the works but after receiving Lowrie's throw at second, Green had trouble getting the ball out of his glove. His throw to first was late and Martin was safe. Green, though, later made a sterling play of a grounder up the middle, throwing the runner out while falling toward center field. A diving grab in left-center field by Coco Crisp off a drive by Andrew McCutchen saved at least one, and possibly two runs to end the seventh.
The Pirates announced a crowd of 23,743 at PNC Park.
Tweet o' da game
tough call. Low and away. -- @sharkraider, on the called third strike to Green.
Rookie Dan Straily (5-2, 4.52 ERA) makes his second start since returning from triple-A Sacramento last Thursday. the right-hander is 4-0 with a 3.02 ERA and opponents are hitting .206 against him in his last eight starts. He has never faced the Pirates, who counter with rookie Gerrit Cole (4-1, 3.94). Cole, the No. 1 selection of the 2011 draft, made his big league debut on June 11.