The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

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July 9, 2013

Athletics squeeze past Pirates

PITTSBURGH — Bartolo Colon allowed one run over seven innings and the Oakland Athletics won for the ninth time in their past 12 games, beating the Pittsburgh Pirates 2-1 on Monday night.

The 40-year-old Colon (12-3) shook off a tough-luck 3-1 defeat in his previous start to win for the ninth time in his last 10 outings. He outdueled Jeff Locke, who had a personal eight-game winning streak snapped. Locke (8-2) lost for the first time since his first start of the season April 10.

Colon moved into a tie for second in the majors in victories, and has the second-most wins by a 40-year-old in A’s history. He allowed seven hits and one walk with five strikeouts.

Coco Crisp made a diving catch in left-center to preserve Oakland’s lead in the seventh off a hard-hit sinking liner from Andrew McCutchen with two men on and two outs.

That was the final batter Colon would face. The Pirates got runners on second and third with two outs against Ryan Cook in the eighth, but Clint Barmes lined out to left.

Grant Balfour remained perfect in 23 save opportunities when he worked a perfect ninth.

Jed Lowrie had two of Oakland’s three hits and one of its runs. The A’s (53-37) improved to a season-high 16 games over .500 and held on to first place in the American League West.

Jose Tabata, Pedro Alvarez and Barmes each had two hits for the Pirates (53-35), who have lost five of seven to lose their grip on the majors’ best record – and on first place in the NL Central. They trail the St. Louis Cardinals by a half-game.

Locke faced one more than the minimum through six innings. Oakland’s first run came on Josh Donaldson’s sacrifice fly in the fourth. Lowrie had the Athletics’ first hit of the game, a double off the wall in right-center. He advanced to third on a wild pitch – catcher Russell Martin’s throw beat him, but Alvarez’s tag swiped through too early.

The A’s took a 2-0 lead when Locke walked Derek Norris with the bases loaded in the seventh.

The Pirates’ only run came in the bottom of the inning when Barmes scored on a two-out infield single by Tabata. McCutchen – an All-Star selection who earlier extended his hitting streak to 10 games – came up and hit the ball hard into the gap, but Crisp thwarted Pittsburgh’s chance to tie or take the lead.

Notes: Oakland is 10-0 all-time against Pittsburgh – the only team in the majors to have never lost to another team in the majors. ... Pirates 2B Neil Walker sat out his second consecutive game since leaving Saturday’s game because of discomfort in his right side. He worked out during batting practice. ... Before the game, the A’s recalled 2B Grant Green from Triple-A Sacramento. The 2009 first-round pick went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts in his major-league debut. Oakland designated INF Adam Rosales for assignment. A’s manager Bob Melvin said Green will regularly be in the lineup. ... Rookie right-handers will face each other during the middle game of the series today: The Pirates’ Gerrit Cole (4-1, 3.94) against the A’s Dan Straily (5-2, 4.52). Straily is 2-0 with an 0.69 ERA and .119 opponents’ batting average in interleague play this season; Cole won each of his first four starts until losing a 6-4 decision to Philadelphia in his most recent outing Thursday.

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