OAKLAND — Jesse Hahn looked like a completely different pitcher in his season debut with the A’s than he did at any point this spring.
It helped that his sinker and curve were biting sharply and created all kinds of issues for Houston’s lineup.
Hahn pitched into the seventh inning in his return to the majors and combined with two relievers on a four-hitter as the A’s held off the Astros 2-0 on Saturday.
“I don’t know that I’ve seen him better than that,” Oakland manager Bob Melvin said. “Velocity, movement, mixed his pitches, throwing his curveball for a strike, mixing in a changeup … about as good as we’ve seen him. He pitched at the belt for most of spring training where today, not even close.”
Houston put two runners on in the seventh but failed to score. The Astros then loaded the bases in the ninth before Ryan Madson got Evan Gattis to ground into a game-ending double play.
Billy Burns drove in the only runs with a two-out single in the second to help the A’s (13-12) move back above .500.
Hahn (1-0) was called up from Triple-A Nashville before the game and pitched as well as he did for most of 2015 before missing the final three months with a right forearm strain that also delayed his debut in spring training this year.
The right-hander faced the minimum through five innings. He gave up three hits and allowed only one runner past first base to win for the first time since July 1.
“I was just excited to be back out there and have a good one,” Hahn said. “That’s the best stuff I’ve had all year. I was throwing strikes, that was the most important thing — strike one and being able to put hitters away.”
Hahn got plenty of help from his defense, too. The A’s turned three double plays, and shortstop Marcus Semien threw out Tyler White to end the fifth after sprinting deep behind second base to get the ball.
John Axford retired four batters and Madson worked the ninth for his eighth save, completing Oakland’s first shutout of the season.
Chris Devenski, who began the season in Houston’s bullpen, allowed two runs over five innings in his first major league start. Devenski (0-1) struck out four and walked three.
“He showed a lot of guts to get through five,” Astros manager A.J. Hinch. “He lost his command and started pitching a little tentatively, with the back-to-back walks. He pitched very well.”
NEW PLAN FOR GILES
Hinch plans to change how he uses RHP Ken Giles. The reliever has pitched almost exclusively in the eighth-inning setup role, but the Astros want to shake things up for Giles, who has a 9.00 ERA in 11 appearances. “I met with Ken and told him I am easing the burden of the eighth inning off him,” Hinch said. “I just gave him a heads up he may not get the eighth to give him a physical, mental break. It’s not an announcement as much as if it comes to the eighth and don’t see Giles out there, you’ll know.”
Athletics: RHP Chris Bassitt is facing possible Tommy John surgery after being diagnosed with a partially torn ligament in his pitching elbow. Bassitt will meet with a specialist in Cincinnati to get a second opinion. … 3B Danny Valencia will play three rehab games before rejoining the team in time for its May 6 game at Baltimore when he’s eligible to come off the disabled list. … RHP Andrew Triggs was optioned to Triple-A Nashville.
Athletics vs. Astros Rich Hill (3-2, 2.42) vs. Doug Fister (1-3, 5.56)
Time: 1:05 p.m. TV: CSN-CA Radio: 95.7 FM