OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- Ted Lilly spent much of his two-week
honeymoon in Africa this offseason finding fields where he could
practice his pitching -- and he nearly broke his wife's thumb one
day while she was catching him.
''We were lucky she didn't have to go to the doctor,'' Lilly
All the extra work has made a difference, even if his wife,
Tasha, wasn't all for it at the time. Lilly had a spectacular
spring training and pitched 7 1/3 strong innings in his first start
of the season as the Oakland Athletics beat the Anaheim Angels 7-3
Erubiel Durazo homered and drove in four runs as the defending
American League West champions beat the World Series winners in a matchup of
Durazo has 10 RBI in his first four games, exhibiting
everything general manager Billy Beane liked about him when the A's
acquired the slugger from Arizona in a four-team trade in December.
''It's early in the season,'' Durazo said. ''I've got to keep
focused on the rest of the season. A season is so up and down.''
''We didn't pressure Lilly the way we needed to,'' manager Mike
Scioscia said. ''Ted pitched a heck of a game against us. I know
he's battled some arm trouble the last couple of years, but it
looked like his fastball was crisp and he changed speeds well.''
Lilly (1-0), one of four lefties in the rotation, escaped a jam
in the first with runners on second and third and didn't have to
work deep into the count against many batters.
After allowing a double to Anderson in the first, Lilly retired
seven in a row before Salmon's leadoff homer in the fourth, his
first of the season.
It sailed about 415 feet, well above the outstretched glove of
center fielder Chris Singleton, and Anderson followed with a
Lilly then got 12 consecutive outs before walking pinch-hitter Eric
Owens in the eighth. Jeremy Fikac relieved Lilly, who walked into
the dugout to a standing ovation from the crowd of 18,138 -- a big
difference from when he was booed the last time he left the mound.
''My last time out there was the postseason, a big game and I
didn't do well,'' he said. ''I was upset along with the fans. I
feel like I needed to do that. I made the necessary changes to get
over the hump.''
It certainly was a solid start for Lilly, who nearly pitched a
no-hitter in Seattle last April with the New York Yankees but then
switched teams, hurt his shoulder, struggled with a blister on his
pitching hand and finished 2002 in frustration.
Last year, Lilly never found his rhythm with his new team. He
spent July 23 to Sept. 10 on the disabled list with shoulder
inflammation, then returned to make three starts. He came out of
the bullpen Sept. 28, a role he kept through the playoffs.
Lilly made some tweaks to his delivery and mechanics in the
offseason -- including eight workouts in Kenya and Tanzania -- that
he hopes will carry him to success in 2003. He gave up two runs and
three hits with three strikeouts and two walks.
Chad Bradford got four outs for his first save.
Durazo, the regular designated hitter playing first base because
Scott Hatteberg has a sprained ankle, hit a first-inning single to
score Miguel Tejada and Eric Chavez, who pulled off a double steal
to get to second and third.
Around the A's, being aggressive on the basepaths is not the
norm. The rule is you can run as long as you don't get caught.
''We're just playing hard and taking extra bases when we feel we
can,'' Chavez said. ''It's fun.''
Durazo homered to right in the fifth, chasing Anaheim starter
Kevin Appier (0-1).
Appier, who allowed 15 earned runs in 24 innings during spring
training, gave up seven runs on eight hits in four innings. He
struck out three and walked three.
''My command wasn't all that horrible, but my stuff was kind of
flat,'' Appier said. ''When you pitch against these guys, that can
be extremely dangerous.''
Tejada had three hits, including a double, and two runs scored.
Singleton and Chavez each had two hits.
Both teams rested their regular catchers, though Bengie
Molina came in to catch in the eighth for Anaheim. ... Tejada is
hitting .416 (10-for-24) lifetime against Appier. ... Appier went
2-3 with a 4.54 ERA against the A's in 2002.