Oakland rookie turns in gem
BOSTON — It was a game of firsts for big names John Smoltz and Nomar Garciaparra — and Oakland rookie Brett Anderson.
On a night when the 21-year veteran Smoltz made his Red Sox debut at Fenway Park and Garciaparra played there for the first time as an opponent, the 21-year-old Athletics left-hander threw a two-hit shutout in a 6-0 win Monday.
"It kind of eased me into the game, knowing that the focus obviously is not going to be on me," said Anderson, who was 82 days old when Smoltz made his major league debut on April 23, 1988.
Anderson (5-7) pitched the first complete game of his career and Oakland's first since Justin Duchscherer threw one last July 8. He struck out a career-high nine and allowed two singles and two walks while throwing 111 pitches.
"It was a complete game in this ballpark against that team," Oakland manager Bob Geren said. "It's obviously very special for anybody, especially somebody of his age."
It was really special for Garciaparra. The former Red Sox shortstop hit .323 in 81/2; seasons for them before being dealt at the trade deadline in 2004, the year they won their first World Series since 1918. He tipped his helmet and tapped his chest as he received a one-minute standing ovation before his first at-bat, then singled to drive in the first run.
"You don't know how things are going to play out," Garciaparra said. "There's no script for that one. I think what you saw out there was just pure emotion, from the fans, from myself."
Oakland began the day with the AL's lowest batting average (.240), second-worst record (34-46) and eight losses in its previous 11 games. Boston has the best record in the league (49-33) and leads the New York Yankees by one game in the AL East.
Smoltz (0-2) made his third start after missing more than a year following shoulder surgery in his 20th season with Atlanta. He remained winless since an 8-0 victory over Florida on April 17, 2008.
"I'm almost there. I really am," Smoltz said. "I always felt I could pitch in any ballpark, any stadium, against any team, but there's some familiarity that comes with it. I don't know some guys.
He gave up four runs in the fourth
Anderson held the Red Sox hitless in four at-bats with runners in scoring position after entering the game with a .365 batting average against him in those situations, fourth-highest in the AL.
With one out in the second, Jason Bay singled and stole second. Jason Varitek walked, but Rocco Baldelli grounded into a double play. That began a stretch of 10 straight outs, five on consecutive strikeouts.
Baldelli ended that streak with a two-out walk in the fifth and Nick Green singled, but Aaron Bates, playing his first major-league game, struck out.
"The roughest inning was when I faced Bates there with two outs," Anderson said. "You want to go out there and pound the zone and try to get him to swing at a ball out of the zone and I was able to do that."
The Red Sox threatened again with one out in the seventh when center fielder Scott Hairston dropped Bay's fly ball for a three-base error. But Anderson got Varitek to foul out to first and Baldelli to fly to right.
Smoltz allowed hits to the first three batters in the fourth — a double by Jason Giambi, a single by Kurt Suzuki and an RBI single by Garciaparra. Mark Ellis then doubled home two runs and Adam Kennedy got the first of his two RBI singles.
Oakland got its last run in the ninth when Orlando Cabrera, who came to Boston in the 2004 trade and replaced Garciaparra at shortstop, hit his fourth homer.