SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Jeff Samardzija spoke of slowing down, relaxing and trusting his stuff again as he tries to get back on track and find his rhythm.
All he had to do was watch a gutsy, one-of-a-kind rookie on the mound for the other side to get a pretty good idea of how that goes.
Samardzija got outdone by Daniel Mengden, who pitched into the eighth inning for his first major league win in Oakland’s 8-3 victory over the San Francisco Giants on Monday night to open the Bay Bridge Series.
Samardzija, who spent the second half of the 2014 season with Oakland after a trade from the Cubs, allowed six earned runs for the third time in his last five starts. He gave up eight hits in six innings, struck out two and walked two. The right-hander — signed to a $90 million, five-year deal during the offseason — is 1-3 over his last five starts after winning three consecutive outings.
“Just slowing down, not trying to force stuff. I think when this happens you tend to start doing too much,” he said. “These things happen. You go back and you learn from them and you get better.”
In his previous start against Oakland last season with the White Sox, Samardzija surrendered a career-high 10 runs in three innings on Sept. 15.
Mengden got promoted to the majors June 11, far sooner than expected — after just 43 minor league outings.
The 23-year-old right-hander was backed by Marcus Semien’s three-run homer and four RBIs.
Semien connected in the decisive second and Jed Lowrie and Khris Davis added RBI doubles against Samardzija (8-5) in that five-run inning, then Semien added a run-scoring double in the sixth. Davis hit an RBI single in the seventh.
Mengden (1-3) retired the first 13 batters in order before Angel Pagan’s one-out single in the fifth. He called it a day after loading the bases in the eighth and losing his shutout bid.
The right-hander had pitched well enough to win during his initial three major league starts but Oakland scored only four runs total on those days. He had more than that when he took the ball to start the bottom of the second, leading 5-0.
“My first win, it’s a big one,” Mengden said. “It took a little longer than I hoped. It’s one of those, especially coming in the Bay Bridge Series, it feels really good to get the first win against them.”
With his handlebar mustache resembling Hall of Famer Rollie Fingers’ famous facial hair, Mengden allowed two runs and four hits in 7 2-3 innings, struck out five and walked three. He threw 10 of 14 first-pitch strikes to start the game. Traded by Houston to the A’s last July, Mengden returned to his old windup delivery from his college days.
“It’s my own, I guess, little flair,” he said. “It just helps my timing and gets everything going for me.”
Right fielder Billy Burns had a leaping catch on Denard Span’s hard fly ball to start the fourth, while Mengden made a great play fielding Gregor Blanco’s sharp comebacker for the final out of the second.
“That caught me, I didn’t catch that,” he said of his instinct to duck out of the way.
The Giants were dealt just their third defeat in 16 games and fourth in 17 at AT&T Park.
The A’s lead the all-time series against the Giants 55-52 since interleague began in 1997.
SWING AND A MISS
A’s pitchers are 0 for 13 with eight strikeouts and two sacrifices in interleague play this season and 29 for 362 (.080) since the start of interleague play.
Athletics: RF Josh Reddick, out since May 20 with a fractured left thumb, had his day to be activated from the DL pushed from Monday to Tuesday as he didn’t feel quite right and wanted one more rehab game with Triple-A Nashville. … LHP Sean Manaea is set to come off the DL from a strained elbow in his start Wednesday against the Giants in Oakland.
Giants: SS Brandon Crawford got a day off to rest because of what manager Bruce Bochy called “general soreness.” ”We want to keep him fresh, stay away from injuries.” … RHP Sergio Romo (flexor strain in elbow) will have another rehab outing in the minors. … Might Madison Bumgarner be allowed to hit during his Thursday start across the bay in the A’s AL park? “Too early to commit,” Bochy said.
Athletics: RHP Kendall Graveman (3-6) lost in his only previous start against the Giants, a 4-3 defeat at AT&T Park on July 26, 2015.
Giants: Rookie RHP Albert Suarez (3-1) makes his fifth major league start and has allowed three or fewer earned runs in each of his 10 total outings.
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