OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Bartolo Colon tossed eight innings of one-run ball to win his eighth straight start, powering the Oakland Athletics past the St. Louis Cardinals 6-1 on Friday night.
Colon (11-2) controlled the game with an efficient fastball the way he has so many others this season, burnishing his All-Star credentials and confounding critics who question how the 40-year-old continues to dominate. He allowed six hits, struck out five and walked one to match Max Scherzer of Detroit for the most wins in the AL this season.
The A's scored five runs in the second inning to knock Shelby Miller (8-6) out of the game and drop the Cardinals (48-31) a game behind Pittsburgh for the best record in the majors — and the NL Central lead.
Stephen Vogt homered to end an 0-for-32 stretch to start his career, and four players drove in runs in the second inning for the A's in a third straight victory.
Dan Otero pitched a scoreless ninth to finish off the best first half of the season for Oakland (47-34) since 1992, when the club started 48-33. The A's remain a half-game behind Texas for the AL West lead.
Colon carried a perfect game into the fifth, when Matt Holliday walked with one out. Matt Adams added a short fly that dropped in front of a diving Coco Crisp in center field for the first hit off Colon, and David Freese followed with an RBI single for the Cardinals' only run.
Colon tied his career high with eight consecutive wins — which he did in 2005, when he won a career-best 21 games for the Angels and captured the AL Cy Young Award — and hasn't lost since May 9 at Cleveland. He is the first A's pitcher since Barry Zito in 2005 to win eight in a row.
The right-hander also is the first pitcher to win his first seven starts since turning 40, according to information from the Elias Sports Bureau provided by the A's. But with every win brings more attention and more scrutiny — fair or not — about how Colon is finding success at this stage of his career.
Colon is among more than a dozen players who have been connected to a now-closed Miami anti-aging clinic under investigation by Major League Baseball for performance-enhancing drugs. The right-hander also missed the end of last season when he was suspended 50 games for testing positive for synthetic testosterone.
With Colon in complete control again, Oakland overwhelmed St. Louis in the second.
Josh Donaldson hit an RBI single. Josh Reddick followed with a run-scoring double. Seth Smith drove in two runs with another single, and Jed Lowrie's double chased Miller after giving the A's a 5-0 lead.
The A's sent 10 batters to the plate and forced Miller to throw 51 pitches in the inning. It was the most thrown in an inning by one pitcher this season, topping the 50 tossed by Arizona's Ian Kennedy against the Cardinals on June 6.
Colon, now a consistent strike-thrower and master of efficiency, once tossed 61 pitches in the first inning for Cleveland in Seattle on April 9, 1997.
Vogt hit a line-drive homer against Joe Kelly in the fourth to extended Oakland's lead. The solo shot ended the longest hitless streak to start a career by a non-pitcher since Chris Carter began 0 for 33 with the A's in 2010.
Teammates initially acted as if nothing happened when Vogt jogged back in the dugout, then everybody charged him at once. Vogt, filling in for the injured John Jaso, quickly put his gear back on to catch Colon's gem behind the plate.
Kelly, who last pitched on June 21, allowed just the one run and three hits in 5 1-3 innings of relief in one of the few bright spots for the Cardinals.
NOTES: Members of the Hispanic Heritage Baseball Museum presented Cardinals third base coach Jose Oquendo with his induction plaque in the dugout before the game. "It's a great honor and great privilege," said Oquendo, who batted .256 in 12 seasons and earned the nickname "The Secret Weapon" for playing every position during his career. ... A's manager Bob Melvin said Jaso (injured left hand) might not start over the weekend but is available off the bench. ... San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh was in the stands and wearing an A's cap. ... The Cardinals send Adam Wainwright (10-5, 2.31) to the mound against Jarrod Parker (6-6, 4.27 ERA) on Saturday.