ARLINGTON, Texas — Trevor Cahill is making it so routine to pitch impressively for the Oakland Athletics that manager Bob Geren has come to expect these kind of performances.
Cahill did it again Monday night with seven strong innings for his sixth consecutive victory to start the season in a 7-2 victory over the Texas Rangers.
“The best thing about it, is it doesn’t look like he’s pitching over his head or anything. It just looks like he’s just Trevor,” Geren said. “That’s what the fun part is. It feels like he can just do that. … It looked like he pitched the way he normally does. That’s a good feeling.”
The 23-year-old right-hander struck out seven, walked one and allowed five hits. He became Oakland’s first 6-0 starter since Dave Stewart did that 21 years ago.
“He’s pretty awesome,” Josh Willingham said. “Every fifth day he gives us a chance to win. It’s good to score some runs for him.”
Willingham homered and drove in five runs for the Athletics, getting to play only after appealing his one-game suspension for making contact with an umpire.
After a three-run homer off C.J. Wilson (4-2) in the third put the Athletics ahead to stay, Willingham added a two-run single when the A’s tacked on four runs in the eighth.
“Definitely glad he appealed,” said Cahill, who really didn’t need too much help.
Cahill (6-0) matched Jered Weaver of the Los Angeles Angels and Detroit’s Max Scherzer with six wins. The big A’s right-hander also equaled his career best by winning his seventh consecutive decision.
The only crucial mistake by Cahill was the changeup he tried to throw on the first pitch in the fifth. Mitch Moreland pulled it into the second deck in right field for his fifth homer.
Chris Davis followed the homer with a single before Cahill retired his last nine batters, including four consecutive strikeouts during that span.
Cahill improved to 8-2 with a 2.18 ERA in 11 career starts against Texas — he has no more than four wins against any other team. Even more impressive is that the big right-hander is 3-0 with a 0.98 ERA (three earned runs over 27 2/3 innings) in four starts at hitter-friendly Rangers Ballpark.
Much of his success goes to his sinker that keeps balls down. Oakland outfielders only recorded two outs in his seven innings.
“I think a lot of the parks if you make your pitches, you’ll get outs,” Cahill said. “If my sinker’s working I feel like I have a decent shot. I think it was moving a lot (Monday).”
Wilson, coming off a complete game victory at Seattle last Wednesday, allowed only two hits over seven innings. But the left-hander walked five and hit another batter — and those accounted for four of the five runs against him. He struck out two.
“The whole game was frustration. It’s good you can’t read body language or read minds, that would be bad,” Wilson said. “That’s how they have to beat me, is I have to make mistakes and walk a bunch of guys.”
Willingham’s sixth homer of the season, a 402-foot blast deep into the left-field seats, came after Wilson issued consecutive two-out walks. Wilson was gone after hitting Coco Crisp with a pitch to start the eighth and then walking Daric Barton for the second time in the game.
Major League Baseball earlier Monday suspended Willingham for one game and fined him an undisclosed amount for making contact with umpire Bill Miller during an argument of a called third strike Saturday night at Kansas City.
Willingham, who was ejected from that game, can keep playing until the appeal process is complete.
“I’m glad I put off my suspension,” said Willingham, insisting that he didn’t even think about that. “That lasted about a second after I appealed it and I wasn’t suspended anymore.”
After Wilson came out, rookie Ryan Tucker failed to retire any of the four batters he faced. Tucker allowed a two-run single to Willingham that scored Crisp and Barton, and the right-hander left with the bases loaded. Mark Ellis then hit a deep sacrifice fly to left off Brett Tomko.
Since starting the season 9-1, the defending AL champion Rangers (18-18) have lost 17 of 26 games. They have slipped to third place in the AL West.
The A’s (19-17), who won three of four at home against Texas last week, are alone in second place behind the Angels.
The Rangers added an unearned run in the eighth on a throwing error by right fielder Conor Jackson, who missed the cutoff man after Michael Young’s single.
Oakland third baseman Andy LaRoche made a nice barehanded snag of Elvis Andrus’ slow chopper in the third, but his throw was nowhere near first base — and instead went into the Rangers dugout on the fly.
Notes: Oakland reliever Jim Corsi finished with a 6-0 record in 1996. … Cahill is 3-0 with a 1.53 ERA in four starts against AL West teams this season. … 3B Adrian Beltre was out of the Rangers lineup for the first time this season. Beltre wanted to play, but manager Ron Washington said it was just time to give him a break. Beltre was 4-for-30 (.133) his past eight games. Beltre grounded into a game-ending fielder’s choice as a pinch-hitter. … Oakland is 68-68 at Rangers Ballpark, which opened in 1994. … The only player to start all 35 games for Texas is Young, though 24 of his starts are as the DH.