ANAHEIM — Getting ahead of hitters has been the primary reason for C.J. Wilson's recent stretch of success.
The Los Angeles Angels' left-hander retired 18 consecutive batters at one point during his duel with Oakland's Dan Straily, and Alberto Callaspo homered in a 2-0 victory over the Athletics 2-0 Saturday night. But at no point in the game did Wilson feel comfortable.
"Comfort is like a four-letter word in baseball. I mean, you get too comfortable and guys start whacking you all over the place. So you have to stay adamant and stay vigilant," the two-time All-Star said. "It's like workplace safety — if there hasn't been an accident in 99 days, you're looking to extend that streak. I was upset that I walked a couple of guys tonight, because the last game I didn't have any walks."
Wilson (10-6) gave up three hits in 8 1-3 innings, struck out eight and walked two. Jed Lowrie's two-out double in the first and Nate Freiman's leadoff single in the second were the only hits off him until Lowrie's one-out single in the ninth on Wilson's 119th and final pitch.
"My first-pitch strike percentage has been up significantly over the last couple of years, and it's something I've been getting better at as my mechanics get more refined," Wilson said. "This whole year, it's been more of a theme."
Wilson began his string of consecutive outs with three straight strikeouts on 10 pitches and didn't allow another baserunner until he walked Derek Norris on a full count leading off the eighth. He was much more pitch-efficient than teammate Jered Weaver was in his 4-1 victory Friday night.
"They ran Jered's pitch count up last night — he had like 90 pitches after four or five innings — so my game plan was to try to get ahead of them," Wilson said. "In the past, I've had a tough time doing that against them because I was too deep into counts, so I tried to turn the tables on them. I'm not one of those guys who's going to strike out everybody, so I have to use the defense as much as possible."
Ernesto Frieri got the final two outs for his 24th save in 26 chances, striking out pinch-hitter John Jaso with runners at first and second to end it.
Wilson joined Ryan Dempster and Derek Lowe as the only pitchers in major league history to post 10 or more wins as a starter in four consecutive seasons after three straight seasons with 10 or more saves. The two-time All-Star is 6-1 with a 1.70 ERA over his last seven starts.
The AL West-leading A's lost their second in a row coming out of the All-Star break. Home Run Derby champion Yoenis Cespedes sat out his second straight game because of a sore left wrist that he injured during batting practice on Friday.
"He feels better today, but until our training staff feels like he's 100 percent and not putting himself in a position where he could further injure it, it'll be day to day," manager Bob Melvin said.