ANAHEIM (AP) — For Bartolo Colon, life not only has begun again at 40, it’s even sweeter this time around.
Colon pitched a four-hitter for his third shutout this season and center fielder Chris Young robbed Albert Pujols of a home run to help the Oakland Athletics beat the Los Angeles Angels 6-0 on Sunday.
“I’ve been trying to explain it all year and I can’t,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said when asked how Colon is still able to pitch at such a high level in his 16th big league season.
“He’s a competitor. He loves to play the game and he loves pitching. He’s always in a great mood, and he’s in an even better mood on the day he’s pitching — which you very rarely see with starting pitchers. He’s just pitching with a lot of confidence, and we have a lot of confidence when he’s on the mound.”
Eric Sogard hit a two-run homer to back Colon (13-3), who struck out five and walked one. The right-hander, making his first start since returning from his third All-Star game, tied Max Scherzer and Adam Wainwright for the major league lead in wins while reducing his ERA to 2.52.
“It’s pretty amazing — and he was sick today on top of it,” Melvin added. “You saw the velocity. It was down all day, so he did it a little bit differently today with more movement and less power — and he still got it done.”
Colon is 10-1 with a 1.46 ERA over his last 12 outings.
“It seems like he’s dipped into the fountain of youth,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “He’s throwing the ball as well as he was 10 years ago, and there’s obviously been a resurgence in his career. For a couple of years, it looked like age was catching up with Bart and his velocity wasn’t quite there. But he’s always had incredible command.”
The 116-pitch complete game was Colon’s 35th in 395 big league starts, and the shutout was the 12th of his career. Young preserved Oakland’s ninth shutout of the year when he pulled back Pujols’ bid for his 492nd homer leading off the seventh.
Pujols came up again in the ninth with runners at first and second and took a called third strike before Colon ended it by retiring Josh Hamilton on a fly to left. Melvin went to the mound after Colon gave up one-out singles to J.B. Shuck and Mike Trout, but returned to the dugout without him.
“He’s never asked me for anything. Every time I’ve taken him out of a game when it looked like he could go another inning, he’s always been great about it,” Melvin said. “But this was the first time he said, ‘Give me one more baserunner.’”
Colon, who spent four seasons with the Angels and became the second pitcher in club history to win a Cy Young Award with a career-high 21 wins in 2005, is 5-1 with a 1.62 ERA in eight starts against them since leaving as a free agent in October 2007.
Colon set down the Angels in order in four of the first five innings. The only exception was the third, when he gave up a one-out single by Chris Iannetta and a walk to Erick Aybar before retiring Shuck on a double-play grounder. It was the 96th time that the Angels grounded into a double play, second-most in the majors behind St. Louis’ 98.
“Ageless wonder,” is how Angels first baseman Mark Trumbo described Colon after going 0 for 3. “He’s got a lot of movement on the ball. His pitches all start out at about the same place. You just have to try and gauge where it’s going to end up. A lot of times it’s off the fist. It’s really tough to pick up any spin off his ball. It’s a testament that he’s able to throw games like this at the age that he is. It’s obviously a little more going on than what you might see.”
Jerome Williams (5-6) was charged with six runs — four earned — and eight hits in five-plus innings. He lost his fourth straight decision since beating Baltimore on June 12.
In his last four starts, the right-hander has allowed 20 earned runs over 13 innings for a 13.85 ERA — raising his overall figure to 4.73.
Sogard, the No. 9 hitter, had no RBIs in 40 career at-bats against the Angels until he came up in the third and drove a 1-0 pitch into the lower seats in the right-field corner for a 2-0 lead after a leadoff double by Young. It was Sogard’s second homer this season and sixth in 392 career at-bats.
The A’s extended the margin to 4-0 in the fifth. Sogard singled before designated hitter Coco Crisp bunted for a hit and continued all the way to third on third baseman Alberto Callaspo’s throwing error past first base, which allowed Sogard to score from first. Four batters later, Brandon Moss singled home Crisp with two outs.
The A’s got two more in the sixth after throwing errors by Iannetta and Trumbo, which increased the Angels’ total to an AL-worst 72. Josh Reddick was on the front end of a double steal with Young, and continued home when Iannetta’s throw caromed off Reddick and toward the dugout. Young scored when Trumbo charged Crisp’s slow bouncer to first and threw wildly past Iannetta at the plate.
NOTES: Home Run Derby champion Yoenis Cespedes missed his third straight game because of a sore left wrist. “Until he actually gets in the batting cage and swings freely and then gets in there for batting practice, he won’t play,” Melvin said. “I’d doubt tomorrow. We want to make sure he gets in swings on the field.” ... Colon is 8-0 with a 2.25 ERA in his last nine starts against AL West teams, a stretch that began with a 10-4 win over the Angels last Aug. 7 at Oakland. ... RHP Tommy Hanson, who hasn’t pitched for the Angels since June 20 because of a forearm strain, is slated to come off the disabled list Tuesday and start against Minnesota. ... Crisp has gone 82 at-bats without an extra-base hit since his solo homer on June 21 at Seattle against Hisashi Iwakuma. ... The Angels were 1 for 16 with runners in scoring position during the three-game series. ... Trout extended his hitting streak to a career-best 13 games.