ANAHEIM, Calif. – Bartolo Colon threw 38 consecutive strikes at one point and pitched four-hit ball for eight innings to help the Oakland Athletics beat the cellar-dwelling Los Angeles Angels 6-0 on Wednesday night.
Colon (3-1) struck out five and walked none, helping drop his former team six games behind two-time defending AL champion Texas in the AL West — just 12 games into the season. The 38-year-old's consecutive strikes streak ended on an 0-1 pitch to Bobby Abreu with one out in the eighth.
STATS LLC said its pitch-by-pitch data goes back to 1988 — since then, the most consecutive strikes a pitcher has thrown is 30, by Tim Wakefield for Boston in 1998 against Cleveland.
Colon won the 2005 AL Cy Young Award after helping lead the Angels to a division title with a 21-8 record and 3.48 ERA. The two-time All-Star is 3-2 with a 2.05 ERA in five starts against them since leaving the organization and signing with Boston as a free agent in February 2008.
Colon, whose three previous starts this season all were against Seattle, has walked only two batters in his first 27 1-3 innings and has made 18 consecutive starts with fewer than three — one off his longest such streak. The last time he issued more than two walks was July 7, 2011, when he had four against Tampa Bay.
Yoenis Cespedes hit a three-run homer for Oakland, giving the Cuban-born rookie a team-leading 12 RBIs in his first 12 games.
Jonny Gomes added a solo shot for the A's against Ervin Santana (0-3), who gave up four runs and seven hits over seven innings with five strikeouts. The Angels' No. 3 starter is 5-7 with a 3.90 ERA in 14 starts since his no-hitter at Cleveland on July 27, and has a 6.75 ERA in his three starts this season.
Colon was staked to a 3-0 lead before he even threw a pitch. Cespedes, whose two-run double capped a four-run eighth inning in Tuesday night's 5-3 win, drove a 1-2 pitch into the left field bullpen for his fourth home run after singles by Cliff Pennington and Josh Reddick.
Gomes, starting in left field with Coco Crisp battling a flu bug and a 2-for-24 drought, led off the sixth with a drive to left field for his third homer of the season — and third hit.
Albert Pujols' season-opening home run drought reached 12 games and 49 at-bats. The three-time NL MVP was 1 for 4, including a sixth-inning drive that Cespedes caught at the edge of the warning track in left-center. The only other time in Pujols' 12-year career that he went more than five games before hitting his first homer was 2008, when it took him nine games and 28 at-bats to do it.
Notes: The Angels have called a press conference for Thursday to announce a contract extension for SS Erick Aybar, for a reported $35 million over four years. He then will be presented with his first Gold Glove before the start of the series finale. ... Aybar didn't start, but hit a ground-rule double leading off the eighth as a pinch-hitter — the only runner Colon allowed past first base. The hit ended Aybar's 0-for-15 drought. ... The A's had 10 hits, including Jemile Weeks' RBI double in the ninth. It was the first time they're reached double digits in 13 games this season. ... Angels LF Bobby Abreu was 0 for 4 while batting in the leadoff spot for the first time since Aug. 28, 2010 — when he ended stretch of 20 consecutive starts in the one hole. Lifetime, he is hitting .281 with nine homers, 20 RBIs, 32 walks and 45 strikeouts in 50 starts in the leadoff spot.