PHOENIX (AP) - If the Colorado Rockies are going to contend in the NL West, they'll need more pitching performances like the one Jason Hammel supplied Saturday night.
Hammel tossed shutout ball and Carlos Gonzalez hit his first home run of the spring, sending Colorado to a 4-1 victory over the Oakland Athletics.
Hammel was coming off a poor outing against Texas on March 16, when he gave up eight runs - three earned - and seven hits in three innings. He said he trusted his delivery more Saturday and stayed balanced on the pitching rubber, which led to better command.
``That is something I have been working on. It's a work in progress,' said Hammel, who threw 80 pitches in the game and 15 more in the bullpen after exiting.
Oakland manager Bob Geren and first baseman Daric Barton were ejected after they argued a call at first base in the seventh. Geren was tossed by first base umpire Chris Ward, and Barton was ejected after the inning.
Hammel, the Rockies' No. 4 starter, outpitched A's right-hander Trevor Cahill, slated to get the ball on opening day against Seattle.
Hammel gave up four hits in 5 1-3 innings, walked one and struck out three. Cahill went seven innings, giving up seven hits and three runs - two earned - while striking out five. He did not walk a batter.
Because the lighting at Phoenix Municipal Stadium is not quite as bright as most major leaguers are used to, Hammel said he was having a hard time seeing catcher Chris Iannetta's signs. The two managed to make their signs much simpler.
While his teammates will soon head to Denver to open the season Friday against Arizona, Hammel will throw once more in a minor league game at the team's new spring home in Scottsdale, Ariz.
``I want to continue to finish strong,' he said.
Gonzalez, who signed an $80 million, seven-year contract in January, hit a long solo homer off Cahill in the sixth to give Colorado a 2-0 lead.
Gonzalez is batting .354 this spring after hitting .336 with 34 homers and 117 RBIs in 2010.
Oakland scored in the eighth on a double by Conor Jackson.
With one out in the seventh, Barton dropped a throw from Cahill after the pitcher fielded a tapper in front of the mound by Ian Stewart. Barton claimed he held the ball long enough and was transferring it to his throwing hand, but Ward, a minor league umpire, did not agree.
NOTES: Geren picked right-hander Brandon McCarthy as his No. 5 starter. ... Oakland LF Josh Willingham left in the fifth inning after getting hit on the right foot by a pitch. The injury did not require X-rays. ... Iannetta had three hits, raising his average to .355. ... The A's and Rockies play again Sunday at Salt River Fields in Scottsdale. ... DH Hideki Matsui had a hit for Oakland, but is 2 for 23 over his last six games.
The Associated Press News Service
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