OAKLAND, Calif. — When Paul Blackburn needed 47 pitches to make it through the first two innings, it didn’t seem he would last long for the Oakland Athletics.
Then Blackburn found his groove and led the streaking A’s to another win.
Blackburn pitched shutout ball into the seventh inning and Oakland won its fifth straight game, beating the Cleveland Indians 3-1 on Friday night.
“It was just finding a tempo and rhythm,” Blackburn said. “It’s something I’ve struggled with the first couple of innings. Once I get over that hump in the second inning, I feel like everything is more put together.”
Marcus Semien and Khris Davis drove in runs against Trevor Bauer (7-6) as the A’s followed up a four-game sweep at Detroit with a win in the opener of a five-game homestand.
Jed Lowrie provided insurance with a solo homer in the eighth off Zach McAllister to move Oakland a season-high seven games over .500.
“Games like that, it feels like a 10-run homer,” manager Bob Melvin said. “The guys coming to the plate get your attention in the last inning. It was paramount. It gives you a little bit of wiggle room.”
Blake Treinen allowed two baserunners in the ninth before earning his 21st save in 23 chances. He has converted 18 straight save opportunities.
Blackburn (2-2) had a 12.70 ERA his past three starts and struggled early against Cleveland, with four of the first seven batters reaching base safely. But a caught stealing and a double play helped him make it through the first two innings unscathed and he settled down from there.
He retired 14 of the final 15 batters he faced, allowing only a two-out walk to Yonder Alonso in the fourth before leaving after retiring Edwin Encarnacion to open the seventh. Blackburn allowed three hits and struck out five.
Francisco Lindor hit an RBI double off Yusmeiro Petit in the eighth inning for Cleveland.
The A’s, who score nearly two fewer runs per game at home than on the road, managed to get single runs against Bauer in the second and sixth innings. Matt Olson doubled in the second and scored on Semien’s two-out hit.
Oakland added an insurance run in the sixth when Matt Joyce singled and scored on Davis’ double.
“He seemed to be very patient so I wanted to make a point of getting ahead in that count,” Bauer said. “He hit a bad pitch. He’s a good hitter. That’s what you’re supposed to do with hanging breaking balls, hit them.”
Bauer allowed two runs and six hits in 6 2/3 innings, striking out eight. His 148 strikeouts are the most for a Cleveland pitcher before the end of June since Sam McDowell had 151 in 1970.