San Francisco’s Matt Morris delivers a pitch against Oakland in the fourth inning of Sunday’s game. - AP

Athletics muster up only two hits against Giants' Morris

OAKLAND, Calif. — Matt Morris has pitched so well after San Francisco losses that he's earning a reputation for being the club's stopper.

Morris commanded the plate with all his pitches and worked efficiently on a day San Francisco sure needed a big outing from its starter, pitching a two-hitter with a season-high nine strikeouts in the Giants' 4-1 victory over the Oakland Athletics.

Morris — following back-to-back losses by ace Barry Zito and No. 2 starter Matt Cain — was helped by stellar defense, solo home runs from Randy Winn and Rich Aurilia and Dan Ortmeier's career-high three hits.

"He seems to be the guy who's stepped up and done it most consistently so far," Aurilia said of Morris, who will get an extra day off before taking the mound again.

Morris matched his career-low for hits in his 21st career complete game and first since Aug. 25 last year against the Cincinnati Reds.

He didn't allow a hit until Dan Johnson's one-out double to center in the fourth. He retired the first nine Oakland hitters in order before Travis Buck reached on Aurilia's throwing error at first to start the fourth.

"This was something we needed today and I'm glad I was able to do it," Morris said. "I'm not here to be on the back page (of the tabloids), that's for sure. I'm here to get my innings and keep the team in the game."

The A's missed a chance for their first three-game sweep of the year, taking two of three in the first interleague installment of the Bay Bridge Series. The teams play again next month in San Francisco.

Oakland, the beat-up defending AL West champion, went 5-5 on its homestand.

"We're not capable of throwing six or seven games together right now," Gold Glove third baseman Eric Chavez said. "Once we get healthy, we'll be able to do that. We'll pull it together."

Barry Bonds was designated hitter for the third straight game and went 0-for-4 with a walk, three groundouts and a popup. The 42-year-old slugger finished his team's 10-game road trip 5-for-27 (.186) with no homers and no RBIs and hasn't hit one out since May 8 against the Mets' Tom Glavine, still 10 away from matching Hank Aaron's career record of 755.

Bonds has gone 30 at-bats and 45 plate appearances without a homer.

Manager Bruce Bochy said Bonds would be in the lineup again Monday night against the Houston Astros when San Francisco opens a six-game homestand — and the skipper is not concerned about Bonds' dry spell.

"He's been swinging the bat well here this series," Bochy said.

Bonds is 1-for-12 lifetime against A's starter Joe Kennedy (1-3) with no homers, five walks and two strikeouts, and the lefty avoided becoming the 439th different pitcher to surrender a home run to No. 25.

Bonds, booed each time he stepped into the batter's box as is typical treatment for him away from the Giants' waterfront ballpark, grounded out on the first pitch he saw to end the first, then walked on four pitches in the third with a runner on first. He grounded out again in the fifth and eighth, then popped up in the ninth.

Bochy believes getting back on the field in left Monday might help Bonds.

"Coming into the series, he was a little cooled off," A's manager Bob Geren said. "We're just fortunate to win two of three. He hit some balls hard against us."

Morris (5-1), facing the A's for the second time in his career and first since 2004 while with St. Louis, had a great curveball, fastball and changeup going for him on the way to his first win in three starts after consecutive no-decisions. He pumped his fist after getting Nick Swisher on a strikeout to end the eighth.

He worked out of a fourth-inning jam with consecutive strikeouts to Jack Cust and Chavez — the heart of the A's order — to leave runners on second and third. He threw 127 pitches, and all Bochy did before sending Morris back out for the ninth was ask pitching coach Dave Righetti to make sure the right-hander was fine to finish it.

"Matt's been that way for us," Bochy said. "We needed a great pitching performance and he gave it to us today. What a gem."

The Giants got on the board in the second on the first of two wild pitches by Kennedy, allowing Eliezer Alfonzo to score.

Winn extended his career-best hitting streak to 19 games with a leadoff infield single in the first, a play on which shortstop Bobby Crobsy had to lunge only slightly to his left and the ball glanced off his glove and was ruled a hit.

If there was any question about whether his first hit was legitimate, he led off the third with a drive to left for his third homer of the year. He singled in the ninth.

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