By Antonio Gonzalez
OAKLAND — Brandon McCarthy matched a career high with 10 strikeouts after missing his last start with a sore right shoulder, leading the Oakland Athletics past the Detroit Tigers 3-1 on Saturday night.
The A’s opening-day starter scattered four hits in seven innings to quiet fears of another serious injury setback. McCarthy (3-3) had struck out 10 batters only twice before.
Jonny Gomes, Cliff Pennington and Daric Barton each drove in a run for Oakland.
Doug Fister’s scoreless streak ended at 11 innings when Gomes grounded a single to left field in the first. Fister (0-1) struck out eight in six innings, allowing five hits and one run.
Detroit has dropped four of six to start its nine-game road trip.
Delmon Young doubled off Brian Fuentes with one out in the ninth and scored on Alex Avila’s fly out. Fuentes recorded his second save in three chances this season.
Relief is exactly what Oakland needed after a day filled with injuries.
The A’s placed powerful Cuban defector Yoenis Cespedes on the 15-day disabled list with a strained muscle in his left hand. First baseman Kila Ka’aihue also was a late scratch from the lineup after he strained a hamstring sliding into second Friday night, and second baseman Jemile Weeks sprained his left ankle running out a single in the second.
Pennington replaced Weeks in the fourth. He played shortstop and Eric Sogard moved to second.
Pennington pulled a triple to right off reliever Phil Coke in the seventh that scored Collin Cowgill from first. Barton followed with a single to give Oakland a 3-0 lead.
The player with the most injury questions entering the weekend ended up answering every one of them.
McCarthy controlled his pitches with ease and seemed to only grow stronger in the later innings. He struck out the heart of Detroit’s lineup swinging in the sixth — including Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder and Young — and never put himself in a jam.
The only time the Tigers even threatened to score came in the fourth, when first baseman Barton let a bunt pop up by Danny Worth drop — perhaps thinking he had a chance for a double play — only to watch the ball spin backward and foul. After Worth sacrificed two runners over, McCarthy rallied by striking out Don Kelly and inducing a groundout from Andy Dirks.
It was the third time in McCarthy’s career that he struck out 10. The last came in a 3-0 victory over the Mariners last Sept. 3, when McCarthy tossed a three-hitter.
A’s manager Bob Melvin had said he didn’t want to stretch McCarthy too much. He pulled the pitcher after 91 pitches, including 66 for strikes.
Notes: Oakland RHP Brett Anderson is scheduled to throw about 40 pitches in a bullpen session Monday in another step forward from elbow-ligament replacement surgery last July. … CF Austin Jackson entered in the eighth, striking out against Cook. … The Tigers send reigning AL MVP and Cy Young Award winner Justin Verlander (3-1, 2.63 ERA) to the mound opposite Jarrod Parker (1-0, 1.80 ERA) in Sunday’s series finale.