Tejeda shuts down A's for first victory
Rookie tosses 5 2/3 shutout innings; Phils score five in seventh
OAKLAND -- Robinson Tejeda has now made two starts in place of the injured Randy Wolf, and the Phillies haven't skipped a beat with the 23-year-old rookie on the mound.
Tejeda (1-0) picked up his first Major League win Friday, pitching 5 2/3 innings of shutout ball as Philadelphia went on to a 6-1 win over the A's in the first of a three-game Interleague series.
When Wolf went down with a sprained left elbow, Tejeda stepped in to make his first start on June 8 and pitched five scoreless innings against Texas, but didn't get a decision in a game the Phillies eventually won, 2-0.
Friday he did finally get that first win in his second start after eight relief appearances since his Major League debut on May 10.
Tejeda said the thought of replacing a mainstay in the rotation provided no extra motivation.
"The only thing that pushes me to do better is seeing the team make plays behind me," Tejeda said. "I see that and say, 'OK, I'll do my best.'"
Tejeda's best on Friday wasn't spectacular; he scattered four hits but also walked three while striking out one -- but it was more than good enough for manager Charlie Manuel.
"The last two games he showed up big for us," Manuel said. "He stayed cool and kept his composure."
Tejeda had to keep his composure, because he kept putting leadoff runners on. The A's had their first batter of each inning but the fourth reach against Tejeda.
A's manager Ken Macha had read the scouting reports and seen the video that explained why Tejeda brought a 4.13 ERA into the game, and was surprised by the difference he saw Friday.
"He had better command than in his other games," Macha said. "He made some pitches when he had to. He has good movement on his pitches, both his changeup and his fastball."
And, according to Tejeda, on a third pitch, too.
"Today, my slider was working for strikes," he said, and proved it by throwing it and his offspeed stuff even when he was behind in the count.
"When I get behind, I still pitch like it's 1-1 or 2-2," he said.
Some of the credit goes to catcher Todd Pratt.
"He's got a lively fastball with some movement, and a good changeup, really two changeups, one's more like a split," said Pratt, who often called for something other than the heater, even in fastball counts.
"We wanted to hide his power until we needed it in the middle innings," Pratt said.
As good as Tejeda looked, A's starter Barry Zito (3-8) looked better, especially early in the game. Zito already had seven strikeouts and hadn't given up a hit when things started to sour for him in the fifth.
|"He had better command than in his other games. He made some pitches when he had to. He has good movement on his pitches, both his changeup and his fastball."|
|-- A's manager Ken Macha on Robinson Tejeda|
Pratt then hit a chopper back to Zito, who might have thrown out Bell breaking for the plate had he fielded it cleanly. But Zito bobbled the ball and had to get Utley at third as the Phillies took a 1-0 lead.
Philadelphia blew open the game with a five-run seventh that opened with six straight hits. Utley's RBI double made it 3-0 and chased Zito, then Pratt greeted reliever Kiko Calero with a two-run double.
What the box score won't show is of the four hits that inning off Zito, only Utley's double was a solid shot.
Pat Burrell started things with a single to left off the end of the bat. Then Thome came up against a shift that had third baseman Eric Chavez stationed where shortstop Bobby Crosby normally plays and Crosby waiting behind second.
Thome hit a ball to Chavez's left, and the Gold Glover appeared to pull up short just before reaching the ball, which skidded past Crosby, too, for a single.
"You don't get too many ground balls that you have to call," Zito said of what could have been a double-play grounder.
Bell followed with a bloop single just over Crosby's head, and Utley then crushed one off the wall in right.
"The win is good, because we weren't exactly killing Zito," Manuel said. "I like the way he was pitching."
Of course, Manuel is pretty fond of the way his starter was going, too.
"Once he gets command of his pitches, he has a chance to be pretty good, because his stuff is pretty good," Manuel said.
Until the sixth, Tejeda was able to get himself out of trouble. But when he put two runners on with two out in the sixth, Manuel saw it was time to go to the bullpen.
On came Rheal Cormier to strike out Dan Johnson to close the inning, and Cormier continued with a perfect seventh.
Aaron Fultz gave up the A's lone run in the eighth before Geoff Geary polished off the game in the ninth.
Getting his first Major League win was a great moment for Tejeda, a moment he said he wasn't even thinking about when he got his first callup last month.
"When I was called up, I was looking around at all the people on the plane and thinking, 'Can you believe I'm going to the big leagues?'" he said.
Friday, Tejeda's excitement really started kicking in when his teammates were batting around in the seventh.
"Now I feel like I'm going to win the game," he said of watching the rally from the dugout. "I almost felt like dancing."
Tony Kuttner is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.