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Mengden dominates D-backs with shutout

MLB.com

OAKLAND -- In manager Bob Melvin's mind, Daniel Mengden wasn't going to be able to finish the shutout -- unless the A's scored in the bottom of the eighth. So, when Chad Pinder launched a homer to left-center field on the first pitch of the inning to give the A's a three-run cushion, Mengden was delighted.

"Chad hit the home run and [Melvin] was like, 'All right, you're going,' and I was like, 'Perfect,'" Mengden said.

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OAKLAND -- In manager Bob Melvin's mind, Daniel Mengden wasn't going to be able to finish the shutout -- unless the A's scored in the bottom of the eighth. So, when Chad Pinder launched a homer to left-center field on the first pitch of the inning to give the A's a three-run cushion, Mengden was delighted.

"Chad hit the home run and [Melvin] was like, 'All right, you're going,' and I was like, 'Perfect,'" Mengden said.

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The righty took the mound for the ninth and retired the side without a hiccup, finishing a near flawless outing. Mengden pitched a shutout on Saturday, shutting down the D-backs as the A's evened up the series at the Oakland Coliseum with a 3-0 win.

Video: ARI@OAK: Mengden tosses shutout vs. the D-backs

Matt Joyce, Matt Olson and Pinder provided the A's offense on the day, with all three hitting solo homers.

It was Mengden's second career complete-game shutout, with his other coming last September against the Phillies.

Mengden allowed two hits, striking out five and issuing no walks to earn his third straight win, the longest winning streak of his career. He was efficient and pitched to contact, throwing 76 strikes on 102 pitches.

"He's been real economical in his pitch count, and I don't think I've ever seen him mix his pitches as well as he has," Melvin said. "When he's throwing a lot of strikes, typically he's on the corners and getting balls off the end of the bat and they're not squaring him up, and that was the case today."

The righty continues to rebound after a rough start to the season. He was 1-2 with a 6.19 ERA in his first three starts, but has since gone 4-2 in his last eight outings and lowered his ERA on the year to 2.85. It is Mengden's second straight start of seven or more shutout innings and he has not allowed a run in his last 17 innings pitched.

D-backs first baseman Daniel Descalso, who went 0-for-3, said Mengden limited mistakes and kept his pitches down.

"He didn't leave anything up for me to drive," Descalso said. "I don't think we were necessarily chasing out of the zone, but I think he was making good pitches. He really wasn't missing much in my opinion."

Mengden has been a stabilizing force in the rotation over the last few weeks as A's pitchers are in the midst of a turbulent stretch, with injuries and inconsistency riddling their ranks. He said the game plan on Saturday was to attack hitters early with the fastball and then mix up his pitches.

"I couldn't really tell you what the difference is," Mengden said on what's changed from the beginning of the season. "I'm just feeling really good, finally getting comfortable being here now a year and a half or so."

The big hit of the game came on the first pitch the A's saw off D-backs starter Clay Buchholz. Joyce sent a fastball out of the park for his sixth home run of the year, giving the A's a 1-0 lead.

Video: ARI@OAK: Joyce hammers a solo homer to right-center

Buchholz, though, settled down, retiring 15 consecutive batters after the homer. He finished the day allowing two hits in six innings of work, with zero walks.

But his replacement, Jorge De La Rosa, promptly allowed a solo shot to Olson to center field in the seventh.

Video: ARI@OAK: Olson rips a solo home run to center field

Pinder followed with a solo homer of his own in the eighth, off Fernando Salas, giving the A's a couple of insurance runs.

Video: ARI@OAK: Pinder swats a solo homer to left-center

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
The D-backs' best chance to score came in the third inning, when slugger Paul Goldschmidt came up with a runner at third and two outs. But Mengden got Goldschmidt swinging on a fastball to end the threat.

Video: ARI@OAK: Mengden K's Goldschmidt to strand a runner

SOUND SMART
Olson's homer in the bottom of the seventh was his first home run off a lefty this season.

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Dustin Fowler made a tremendous catch to rob Nick Ahmed of a hit in the eighth inning, diving to catch a sinking line drive.

Video: ARI@OAK: Fowler makes stellar diving catch in center

HE SAID IT
"I've just been battling I feel like this entire year and just starting to come around and feel like myself, and these past few days I felt better at the plate and able to put good swings on pitches. I'm finally starting to turn that corner right now." -- Olson, who hit his fourth homer in his last 12 games

UP NEXT
Right-hander Frankie Montas will be recalled from Triple-A Nashville to start the final game of the series Sunday, which will mark his first outing for the A's this season. Zack Greinke (3-3, 3.71 ERA) will toe the rubber for the D-backs in the 1:05 p.m. PT matchup at the Oakland Coliseum.

Eric He is a reporter for MLB.com based in the Bay Area.

Oakland Athletics, Daniel Mengden