When Rich Harden starts, the Oakland Athletics always win – at least during the regular season.
Harden allowed three singles and struck out seven in seven innings to lead Oakland to its first victory of the season, 9-0 over the Seattle Mariners on Wednesday night.
It also was Bob Geren’s first win as a major league manager.
“Tremendous performance,” Geren said after his players soaked him with beer.
Oakland has won 11 consecutive regular-season games started by Harden since Aug. 14, 2005, against Minnesota, and he’s 6-0 in those starts. Harden, who missed most of last season with back and elbow problems, lost Game 3 of the AL championship series to Detroit.
He improved to 5-0 with a 0.86 ERA in six starts at Safeco Field, a few hours drive and a ferry ride from his native Victoria, British Columbia.
“I just love coming up here, pitching in that cool weather,” he said.
In other games it was Boston 7, Kansas City 1; Minnesota 7, Baltimore 2; Los Angeles 5, Texas 3; Detroit 10, Toronto 9; and Cleveland 8, Chicago 7. Tampa Bay’s game at New York was rained out.
At Seattle, No. 9 hitter Mark Ellis drove in five runs as the A’s avoided their first 0-3 start since 1996.
Miguel Batista allowed eight runs and 10 hits and two balks over 4 2-3 innings in his Mariners’ debut.
“There is no excuse. I just didn’t get my job done. That is the reason we lost,” Batista said.
Red Sox 7, Royals 1
J.D. Drew and Mike Lowell hit back-to-back doubles in a three-run first, and Josh Beckett held Kansas City to two hits through five chilly innings for visiting Boston.
Kevin Youkilis added a two-run home run off reliever Todd Wellemeyer in the seventh to make it 6-1 as the temperature dipped to 39 degrees.
Beckett (1-0) allowed a two-out double to Mark Teahen in the first and a two-out double to Ross Gload in the fourth. He had five strikeouts and four walks.
After giving up three runs in the first, Odalis Perez (0-1) retired 13 of 15 before walking Manny Ramirez with one out in the sixth.
Twins 7, Orioles 2
Ramon Ortiz (1-0) allowed two runs in seven innings in his Twins debut, helping Minnesota complete a three-game sweep at the Metrodome.
Michael Cuddyer had three singles and two RBIs before leaving with a cut on his chin in the fifth inning for the Twins, who smacked around Jaret Wright in his first start for the Orioles.
Wright (0-1) lasted just 2 1-3 innings, giving up six runs – four earned – on four hits and walking five.
Angels 5, Rangers 3
Gary Matthews Jr. robbed Michael Young of a first-inning home run with a leaping catch in center, and the Angels completed a sweep to open 3-0 for the fourth time in franchise history. Los Angeles outscored visiting Texas 17-7 and left Rangers rookie manager Ron Washington looking for his first victory.
Los Angeles took a 4-0 lead in the first off Brandon McCarthy (0-1), with two of the runs unearned because of shortstop Young’s error. Vladimir Guerrero singled home one run and Garret Anderson doubled in another.
Ervin Santana (1-0) gave up two runs and four hits in seven innings with six strikeouts, and Francisco Rodriguez pitched the ninth for his second save.
Tigers 10, Blue Jays 9
Curtis Granderson hit his first career grand slam, a drive off the top of the wall, and tied his career high with five RBIs as Detroit built a 9-0 lead.
Nate Robertson (1-0) allowed two runs and seven hits in 5 2-3 innings, leaving after Aaron Hill’s two-run homer.
Visiting Toronto closed with seven runs in the eighth off relievers Jason Grilli and Fernando Rodney but the potential tying run was stranded at third when Magglio Ordonez made a running catch of Troy Glaus’ drive to right-center. Todd Jones worked the ninth for his first save – after Toronto put two on with one out, Jason Smith flied out and Reed Johnson popped out.
A.J. Burnett (0-1) gave up six runs and five hits and four walks in two-plus innings, his shortest start since June 30, 2004.
Indians 8, White Sox 7
Grady Sizemore hit a two-run, two-out homer off Matt Thornton (0-1) to overcome a 7-6 deficit in the seventh inning, and Jason Michaels made a game-ending catch on Joe Crede’s drive with two on while falling down backward at the warning track.
Aaron Fultz (1-0) went two-thirds of an inning for the win, and Joe Borowski got three outs for the save around a pair of walks.
The temperature at game time in Chicago was announced at 31 degrees with a 15 mph wind and a wind chill of 19.
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