OAKLAND -- Four perfect innings spelled out the beginning of Mike Fiers' A's tenure. The right-hander hardly played shy when introducing himself to the Coliseum crowd, striking out eight of his first 12 batters.Then the Dodgers got a hit. Yasmani Grandal's home run christened the fifth inning, simultaneously erasing Fiers'
OAKLAND -- Four perfect innings spelled out the beginning of Mike Fiers' A's tenure. The right-hander hardly played shy when introducing himself to the Coliseum crowd, striking out eight of his first 12 batters.
Then the Dodgers got a hit. Yasmani Grandal's home run christened the fifth inning, simultaneously erasing Fiers' bid at a perfect game and a shutout. The A's won, anyway.
A two-out rally against Clayton Kershaw in the fourth inning helped facilitate a 3-2 victory, allowing the A's to split this two-game Interleague set and gain a game on the Mariners for the second American League Wild Card spot. Oakland leads by three with 47 to play.
Fiers, responsible for a lone run in 5 1/3 innings, was denied a win after Lou Trivino surrendered a game-tying run in the seventh, but the A's ensured he would be part of one, going ahead in the eighth when Grandal dropped the ball at home plate and Marcus Semien safely slid past him. Closer Blake Treinen secured his 29th save with a scoreless ninth.
"It's team baseball here, and that's what I want to be a part of," Fiers said. "This team does everything right. They hustle, they pitch well, they play defense, they come up with big hits, put together good at-bats against a good pitcher in Kershaw. Just to battle this game out and come out on top is huge."
Fiers joined his new club just Monday in a trade from Detroit, leaving behind the dog days of summer for a playoff race. In turn, the A's expressed hope for more stability in their patchwork rotation to match a powered offense and a trusty bullpen.
So far, so good. Following a Manny Machado double with one out in the sixth, Fiers was pulled at just 78 pitches because of said bullpen, departing to a hearty applause following a fine first impression.
"I talked to him when he got here and I said, 'Look, there's going to be days where we're rested down there, and you might come out of some games a little earlier than you think,' but he was fine with it," manager Bob Melvin said, "and we ended up with the win."
"If our bullpen wasn't so nasty," catcher Jonathan Lucroy said, "he probably would have stayed in. He looked great. The thing that stood out for me was he was pumping strikes. Just pumping strikes."
Fiers, who twirled a no-hitter against the Dodgers as a member of the Astros on Aug. 21, 2015, fanned two batters in each of his first four innings, recording first-pitch strikes to 10 of 12 batters in that span. Even after Grandal homered, clobbering a high fastball, and the Dodgers put two more men on base, Fiers quieted the noise by stranding both to keep the lead intact.
"Boy, he got off to a nice start, didn't he? That club grinds you," Melvin said. "I mean, one through nine, there's no break there. So to get off to the start he did, certainly in front of the crowd for the first time, was terrific. With a rested bullpen, he gave us exactly what we needed."
The eight strikeouts tied a season high for Fiers, who was averaging 6.6 strikeouts per nine innings entering the day.
"I think it kind of stepped up another level today," he said, smiling. "Just trying to put together a good performance for this team. I was just trying to throw everything for strikes, make them put it in play."
MOMENT THAT MATTERED
Semien collected his second single of the night in the eighth, advancing to third when Jed Lowrie stroked a one-out single to right to bring Khris Davis to the plate with runners at the corners. Facing right-hander J.T. Chargois, Davis fell behind, 1-2, before fouling off three straight pitches and sending a sharp grounder to Machado at third. The infielder fired home, seemingly in time, but Semien was ruled safe when Grandal lost control of the ball. Davis was initially awarded an RBI, but the official scorekeeper ultimately hit Grandal with an error.
"I'm impressed by his at-bats where he's driving in runs without hitting home runs, and when you watch his BP now, he's hitting the ball the other way, he's trying to put balls in play," Melvin said of Davis. "He's not going up there trying to hit a home run right there. He knows he just needs to put it in play. That's a hitter's RBI, not necessarily a power hitter's RBI. He's just become a better hitter."
Fiers became the 30th pitcher used by the A's this year, tying the franchise record (2015).
HE SAID IT
"Definitely a tough bunch. Resilient, always putting together good at-bats and making it tough on pitchers. It's a whole team game. They show it. They go after everything hard." -- Fiers, on the A's
The A's will enjoy an off-day in Anaheim on Thursday, before beginning a three-game series with the Angels on Friday. Lefty Brett Anderson (2-3, 4.64 ERA) gets the ball in the 7:07 p.m. PT series opener at Angel Stadium, while the Angels counter with right-hander Felix Pena (1-3, 4.97 ERA).
Jane Lee has covered the A's for MLB.com since 2010.