CLEVELAND -- Esteban Loaiza adjusted the top button of his dress shirt, put the final touches on his silk tie, stepped to the middle of the clubhouse floor and lifted his arms in triumph.
"I did it!" he said, smiling. "It's been a long time."
For him and the Oakland Athletics.
Loaiza came off the disabled list and got his first win for Oakland, pitching seven superb innings Thursday to give the seemingly snake-bitten Athletics a 4-1 victory over the Cleveland Indians.
Activated before the game, Loaiza (1-3) took a two-hit shutout into the seventh in his first major league start since April 23. The right-hander, signed as a free agent in the offseason, had been sidelined with a strained shoulder muscle.
Loaiza, however, looked sharp in his return and had no trouble handling the hot-one-day-cold-the-next Indians, who didn't get a runner past second base until the seventh when Ben Broussard homered leading off.
Loaiza allowed four hits, walked one, struck out five and gave the A's some return on their three-year, $21 million investment in him.
"I think that's why we got him here," A's manager Ken Macha said. "To pitch like that."
Every pitch was working for Loaiza, who felt both relief and satisfaction in being able to help his new team and said he isn't concerned about fans who felt the A's wasted big bucks by signing him.
"I'm not even thinking about the money," he said. "I just want to go out there and win. Money comes and goes. We want to win, and win a World Series."
The Indians couldn't get any good swings on Loaiza, who always seemed to be ahead in the count and needed just 77 pitches to get through seven innings.
"I don't think getting one run on three hits off him is very good," said Indians DH Travis Hafner, who went 0-for-2 with a walk off Loaiza. "We didn't have many good at-bats and I didn't have any."
Mark Kotsay and Jason Kendall had three hits apiece for the A's, who collected 11 of their 15 off Jason Johnson (3-6) but banged into three double plays. Johnson dropped to 1-9 in 14 career starts against Oakland, and he has lost eight straight decisions to the A's since beating them in 1999.
Broussard hit his ninth homer for the Indians, who can't seem to string together any wins and have been hovering around .500 for weeks.
Oakland's excitement over getting Loaiza back in the rotation was tempered by Rich Harden's return to the 15-day disabled list with a strained elbow ligament. Harden had only made one start since coming off the DL with a torn oblique muscle and now could miss a few more weeks.
"It's frustrating," said Macha, who has had seven players on the DL already this season.
Oakland may soon lose another player. Shortstop Bobby Crosby injured a knuckle on his right hand while fouling off a pitch before hitting a single in the eighth. He tried to stay in the game, but was unable to grip the ball.
"I'm hoping it's just a bruise," Crosby said before going for X-rays. "It hurts more now than when it first happened."
Frank Thomas' 1,500th career RBI -- on an infield groundout -- gave Oakland a 2-0 lead in the third inning.
Marco Scutaro hit into a pair of double plays, but led off the Oakland seventh with a single, went to third on Kotsay's third single and scored on Johnson's wild pitch.
Oakland made it 4-1 in the eighth on Kendall's RBI single.
|Esteban Loaiza takes a two-hit shutout into the seventh for his first win of the season. (AP)|
|Players of the Game|
Nike Athletics Oaktown 2013 Local T-Shirt - Ash
$27.95 Shop Now!
|Mark Kotsay, CF||5||1||3||0||0||2||2||.272|
|Nick Swisher, LF||4||0||2||0||0||0||1||.294|
|Eric Chavez, 3B||5||0||0||0||0||2||4||.277|
|Frank Thomas, DH||4||0||1||1||0||0||2||.234|
|Bobby Crosby, SS||3||1||1||0||1||0||1||.252|
|Antonio Perez, 2B||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.031|
|Milton Bradley, RF||4||1||1||0||0||1||3||.247|
|Dan Johnson, 1B||4||0||2||1||0||0||0||.219|
|Jason Kendall, C||4||0||3||1||0||0||0||.267|
|Marco Scutaro, 2B-SS||4||1||2||0||0||0||2||.191|
|2B - Dan Johnson (6, J. Johnson)|
|RBI - Frank Thomas (35), Dan Johnson (12), Jason Kendall (16)|
|2-OUT RBI - Jason Kendall (6)|
|CS - Jason Kendall (3, 2nd base by Carmona/Laker)|
|Team LOB - 8|
|DP - Scutaro-Crosby-Johnson|
|E - Bobby Crosby (9, Misplayed grounder)|
|Esteban Loaiza (W,1-3)||7||4||1||1||1||5||1||6.39|
|Kiko Calero (H,11)||0.2||1||0||0||0||2||0||4.63|
|Huston Street (S,11)||1.1||1||0||0||0||3||0||3.86|
|Pitches-Strikes - Esteban Loaiza 77-59, Kiko Calero 18-11, Huston Street 18-12|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Esteban Loaiza 9-7|
|Batters Faced - Esteban Loaiza 26, Kiko Calero 3, Huston Street 5|
|Grady Sizemore, CF||4||0||0||0||0||3||1||.303|
|Jason Michaels, LF||4||0||0||0||0||2||1||.284|
|Travis Hafner, DH||3||0||1||0||1||1||0||.303|
|Ben Broussard, 1B||4||1||2||1||0||1||2||.365|
|Casey Blake, RF||4||0||0||0||0||2||3||.310|
|Jhonny Peralta, SS||4||0||0||0||0||0||1||.233|
|Ronnie Belliard, 2B||4||0||2||0||0||1||0||.279|
|Aaron Boone, 3B||3||0||0||0||0||0||2||.276|
|Tim Laker, C||2||0||0||0||0||0||1||.300|
|a- Victor Martinez, PH-C||1||0||1||0||0||0||0||.294|
|a-singled for Laker in the 8th|
|2B - Travis Hafner (14, Street)|
|HR - Ben Broussard (9, Loaiza)|
|RBI - Ben Broussard (32)|
|Team LOB - 6|
|Outfield Assists - Casey Blake 1|
|DP - Peralta-Belliard-Broussard, Peralta-Belliard-Broussard, Belliard-Peralta-Broussard|
|Jason Johnson (L,3-6)||7||11||3||3||1||3||0||5.70|
|HBP - Swisher (by Jason Johnson)|
|WP - Jason Johnson (6)|
|Pitches-Strikes - Jason Johnson 99-59, Fausto Carmona 35-23|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Jason Johnson 12-3, Fausto Carmona 2-0|
|Batters Faced - Jason Johnson 31, Fausto Carmona 8|
|Attendance - 21099|
|Game Time - 2:37|
|Temperature - 70|
|Umpires - Home - John Hirschbeck, First Base - James Hoye, Second Base - C.B. Bucknor, Third Base - Wally Bell|