CLEVELAND — Brett Anderson’s first start in two months wasn’t pristine. But it was productive and another positive for the ascending Athletics.
Anderson came off the disabled list and worked into the sixth inning before turning things over to Oakland’s outstanding bullpen as the A’s downed the Cleveland Indians 6-0 on Sunday.
Anderson (1-2) had been sidelined with a shoulder strain, one of several injuries to plague the team’s starting staff this season. But he looked sharp in his first start since May 18, limiting the Indians to three hits in five-plus innings and leaving with a 4-0 lead.
“The key was working out of trouble,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “He pitched pretty well and got big outs when he needed to. All in all, you’ve got to consider it a successful performance.”
Stephen Piscotty hit a two-run homer off rookie Shane Bieber (4-1), and Jed Lowrie had a solo shot as Oakland won for the 10th time in 12 games to take two of three from the Indians.
The A’s, who are 18-6 against AL Central teams, moved a season-best 10 games over .500. It’s the first time they’ve reached that mark since the end of 2014 and they’re unbeaten in their past seven series — their longest such streak since 2013.
Oakland heads to Houston for four games against the AL West leaders.
“I don’t think we care who we play,” Melvin said. “We know we have seven games before the break. We want to finish up strong, so it doesn’t matter who we’re playing.”
The Indians failed to take advantage of some early scoring chances against Anderson.
“He’s a good pitcher,” Cleveland manager Terry Francona said. “He’s been hurt a lot but he knows how to pitch. I don’t think we made very good adjustments, but I think sometimes you give the pitcher some credit, for sure.”
Yusmeiro Petit tossed two innings, Ryan Buchter worked the eighth and Emilio Pagan finished the combined five-hitter without Melvin having to use closer Blake Treinen.
With five starters on the disabled list, Melvin has spent the season patching holes in his rotation. But Anderson, a left-hander who was activated for the start when Paul Blackburn went on the DL, provided a quality outing.
Making his first start against Cleveland since 2012, Anderson worked out of jams in the second and fourth innings, both times retiring Erik Gonzalez for the final out.
The Indians had runners at second and third with none out in the second before Anderson struck out Rajai Davis and Robert Perez and got Gonzalez to reach and pop up a 3-0 pitch. Cleveland loaded the bases with two outs in the fourth but didn’t score as Gonzalez bounced weakly into a force at third.
“Obviously, you’d like to go deeper in ballgames, but for the first time back in a while to give us a chance to win and get the series win, I’ll take it,” said Anderson, now 3-0 in five career starts against the Indians.
Piscotty gave Anderson a four-run cushion in the sixth with his ninth homer. Khris Davis, who had three hits, singled leading off and Piscotty hammered Bieber’s 1-2 pitch into the seats.