Kevin Appier wasted no time in making an impact for the Oakland Athletics and raising their playoff hopes at the same time.
Appier allowed one run over eight innings in his Oakland debut Monday night, shutting down Baltimore after giving up a first-inning homer as the surging Athletics defeated the Baltimore Orioles 7-1.
"He's going to be a great pickup, that's for sure. He's a veteran with great stuff," said Matt Stairs, who homered in support of Appier, acquired Saturday in a trade with Kansas City.
Oakland pulled to within 2 ½ games of Toronto and two of Boston in the AL Wild Card race.
"It's unfortunate things didn't work out in Kansas City," said Appier, whose 11 years in the majors were all with the Royals prior to the trade.
"I'm extremely grateful the A's did get me and bring me into a better situation," he said. "Hopefully, I can help here. Hopefully, I can be a big help. It's a tremendous feeling to be on a team that has a definite shot at the postseason. I can't tell you how great that feels. It's wonderful."
The Orioles, losers of five straight, played without Cal Ripken Jr. The third baseman flew back to Baltimore earlier in the day to have his ailing back examined by the team's orthopedic specialist.
Appier (10-9) allowed three hits while striking out four and walking two.
"He's rough with hitters," said Baltimore's Brady Anderson, who went 0-for-4 against Appier. "You keep trying to adjust to him and he keeps changing on you. He can be very good and he's been very good for a long time. He can make a teaa winner when he pitches."
Appier received plenty of run support from his new teammates.
"It seems like lately we've been hitting the bombs," said Stairs, whose team has hit a homer in 22 of their last 23 games. "The offense has picked up and when the offense is going it's fun."
Oakland more than offset the solo homer Appier gave up to the second batter he faced, Mike Bordick. B.J. Surhoff followed with a single, but Appier then set down the next 11 batters before issuing a leadoff walk to Will Clark in the fifth.
Harold Baines reached on second baseman Randy Velarde's throwing error with one-out in the seventh, but Clark then bounced into an inning-ending double play turned by Velarde.
Scott Erickson (7-9) gave up seven runs on nine hits in 4 2-3 innings, snapping his six-game winning streak. It was the first loss since June 4 for Erickson, who fell to 0-3 with a 10.67 ERA against Oakland this season.
"This is really like our whole year has been," Baltimore manager Ray Miller said. "If our starter fails, we fail. Scotty just didn't have it tonight and the way we've been hitting lately, we couldn't help him out."
Oakland was trailing 1-0 in the second when Stairs and Grieve hit consecutive singles ahead of Tejada's 11th home run to put the A's up 3-1.
Stairs homered to start the fourth and Oakland added three more runs in the fifth, when they chased Erickson.
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