CLEVELAND -- Brett Anderson came back and made his presence felt. Fresh off the 10-day disabled list and facing the Indians for the first time since 2012, the left-hander reeled off his best start of the season.
With another power display from Jed Lowrie and Stephen Piscotty, the Athletics cruised to a 6-0 win over the Indians at Progressive Field on Sunday afternoon to take the three-game set. Oakland has won seven straight series and 16 of its past 20 games.
Anderson was making his first start since May 18, having missed time with a left shoulder strain. And although his fastball velocity stayed below 90 mph for much of the game, he hardly skipped a beat over five-plus scoreless innings.
"He spins the ball really well, and he can turn his slider into a curve," Athletics manager Bob Melvin said. "He can backdoor it, he can bounce it, and he can throw it for a strike. He throws you just enough fastballs and pitches you inside enough to create some room away. That's what he's done his whole career, maybe without the 93-94 [mph] that he's had before."
With glove-side fastballs and sliders low and away, Anderson was able to wind and weave his way through the dangerous Indians lineup. He twice ran into trouble with two men in scoring position but was able to get out of the jams by eliciting weak contact from Erik Gonzalez.
The first two batters of the second inning reached, but Anderson escaped with a lineout, a strikeout and a popout to first. Two innings later -- after a single and his only two walks -- he again faced Gonzalez and drew a soft grounder up the middle for a fielder's choice.
"I had to spin some balls and get some outs when I needed to," Anderson said. "The fastball velocity was iffy, and the fastball command was there when I needed to make some pitches. It was like being back in my early days with the A's minus the velocity. I lived and died by the slider and got some outs when I needed to."
Perhaps most impressively, Anderson held the top of the Indians' lineup at bay, with Francisco Lindor, Michael Brantley and Jose Ramirez combining to go 1-for-9 with two strikeouts against the lefty. On the day, Anderson only gave up three hits, with Ramirez's leadoff single in the sixth ending the lefty's afternoon.
Anderson got early support on a run-scoring double from Khris Davis in the first and an RBI single from Dustin Fowler in the second, which would have been more than enough scoring, but the Athletics poured it on at the end. Piscotty hit a two-run homer in the sixth, Lowrie added a solo shot in the seventh and Mark Canha smacked an RBI single up the middle in the eighth.
"It was important to get a lead today for us, too," Melvin said. "The last thing we want to do is let them get a lead, and their guy has pitched really well coming up to this point, too. When you're on the road and you face a tough team, leads are important. When you get confidence from that, you add on some [runs], you create a little difference."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Red hot Jed: Lowrie has been on fire lately and continues to mash. For the second straight game, the second baseman homered, which brought his season total to 16. That matches his previous career best from 2012, and it's not even the All-Star break. Saturday's homer came on a slider low and in, and Lowrie found a pitch in a similar location on Sunday, taking Dan Otero's low-and-in sinker an estimated 349 feet, according to Statcast™, to right field.
"He's added a little dimension to his game this year, swinging the bat better right-handed, too, and with some power right-handed," Melvin said. "Certainly the power numbers stand out for a guy that's always been a professional hitter but now a guy that's knocking in a lot of runs. That's a lot of RBIs he has right now."
Sunday's win brought the A's record to 50-40, which is the first time the club has been 10 games above .500 since it ended the 2014 season at 88-74 and made the postseason as the American League's second Wild Card team.
HE SAID IT
"It was kind of weird because we're so used to scoring late, I didn't know if it was going to be a bad omen to score early." -- Anderson
Frankie Montas will be looking for redemption when the A's face the Astros at Minute Maid Park on Monday. The 25-year-old righty gave up a season-high 11 hits, seven runs and 4 walks over 5 1/3 innings in his start vs. Houston on June 14. Montas owns a solid 3.83 ERA this season. First pitch is scheduled for 5:10 p.m. PT. Gerrit Cole will start for the Astros.