OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) - Brad Penny thinks he's making progress, even if the numbers don't agree. Not even a loss in his first appearance in Oakland was enough to change his mind.
That says something about the burly Detroit pitcher's confidence as much as it does about the state of the Tigers' thin rotation.
Penny gave up five runs in five-plus innings and Detroit's offense was silenced by a dominant effort from Athletics starter Trevor Cahill in a 5-1 loss to Oakland on Sunday.
``I was falling behind a little bit,' said Penny, who had four walks and five strikeouts. ``That's what killed me today, all those walks. I did feel my stuff was better than it had been. The other guy is throwing as good as he is, you can't afford to give up those runs.'
Penny signed a one-year deal with Detroit in January to help anchor the pitching staff along with ace Justin Verlander. But in three of his four starts this season, Penny has failed to make it out of the sixth inning.
``He was OK but he had some control problems,' Detroit manager Jim Leyland said. ``It was his best outing and he threw the ball very well until he ran into that one inning.'
Oakland did most of its damage against Penny during a three-run fifth, but it was a play an inning earlier on a ball that appeared to be going foul that was costly.
Penny walked Daric Barton, who then took third on Conor Jackson's single. After a strikeout, Hideki Matsui hit a dribbler that Penny grabbed just as the ball rolled onto the chalk along the first base line. He threw to first for the out but Barton scored to make it 1-0.
Penny hurt himself again in the fifth after giving up a leadoff double to backup catcher Landon Powell. Penny retired the next two hitters but hit David DeJesus and walked Barton. Leyland came out to calm Penny but the pitcher walked Jackson to force in one run then gave up a two-run single to Willingham.
That was more than enough for Cahill, who pitched eight solid innings. The Oakland All-Star right-hander had a season-high nine strikeouts while scattering four hits and did not walk a batter for the second time this season.
``It's fun to be on the same side as that sort of pitching,' A's infielder Andy LaRoche said. ``All season our starters have been dominating. They're the main reason we've won the games we have and we've been in the games we've lost.'
Ellis doubled twice and Daric Barton walked twice and scored both times to help the A's salvage a split of the four-game series. Oakland also won its second straight at home after losing four of its first five at the Coliseum this year.
The Tigers had 25 hits in the series, 10 in one game.
Cahill (2-0) looked nothing like the pitcher who struggled against the Chicago White Sox on Tuesday, a day after signing a new $30.5 million, five-year extension with the A's. He had at least one strikeout in each of the first four innings and baffled the Tigers hitters with a steady stream of off-speed pitches and a sinker that had Detroit off balance all afternoon.
Cahill was especially tough on Tigers left fielder Ryan Raburn, who struck out three times on his 30th birthday.
``We weren't swinging the bat at all,' Raburn said. ``Some of it was concentration and some of it was the pitcher doing his job. Probably by far it was the worst birthday I've spent.'
Cahill gave up a solo home run to Casper Wells leading off the sixth but was dominant the rest of the way while throwing a season-high 112 pitches.
That prevented the Tigers from notching their first four-game series win in Oakland since 1997. Cahill's effort also followed up on similar outings from fellow starters Gio Gonzalez, Brandon McCarthy and Dallas Braden. The four A's starters allowed just one unearned runs and two overall in 25 2-3 innings.
Tyson Ross gave up a single in the ninth but retired the next three Detroit batters to complete the five-hitter for Oakland.
Detroit scored its only run on Wells' first home run of the season. The solo shot came on an 0-2 pitch and is only the second allowed by Cahill this year.
Notes: Braden, who was forced out of Saturday's win against Detroit with shoulder stiffness, saw an orthopedist on Sunday but there was no immediate word from the team on what the outcome was. ... Tigers C Victor Martinez was held out of the lineup after he tweaked a groin muscle in his last at-bat Saturday. .. The Tigers did not hit a double in a game for the first time this season, ending their longest streak to start a season since at least 1919.
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