ANAHEIM — Everyone was curious how young A's right-hander Trevor Cahill would fare Tuesday night against Los Angeles Angels hitters.
Cahill pitched admirably over five innings in his major league debut. But it was what the A's did at the plate, even with Matt Holliday out ill, that was most needed in a 6-4 victory at Angel Stadium.
After being shut out on just three hits in Monday's opener, the A's broke through for 16 hits. They hardly pounded the ball — 12 of their 16 hits were singles — but it was still a welcome rebound effort as they chalked up win No. 1 for 2009.
And the A's discovered their offense without the presence of Holliday, their left fielder who was sick and never made it to the ballpark.
"I think guys finally relaxed and swung the bat," first baseman Jason Giambi said. "I think everybody was just a little tight (Monday)."
Cahill, 21, — in the majors after starting last season at Single-A and making just six starts at Double-A — battled command problems, particularly with his diving sinker.
He gave up a run in each of the first two innings. But to his credit, he minimized the damage. He left after five innings, giving up three runs (two earned) on five hits. He walked five and struck out one.
Cahill said he was actually more nervous Monday while anticipating his first start than on Tuesday.
"I kind of put pressure on myself, walking guys, having guys on base," he said. "It could have been a lot worse. I did a decent job making pitches when I had to."
The A's broke a 3-3 tie with two runs in the seventh. The first scored on Eric Chavez's bases-loaded fielder's choice. Jack Cust followed with a bloop single to score Giambi.
Cust was 3-for-4 with two RBI, his hitting making up for a dropped fly in right field that led to an Angels run.
Giambi's RBI double down the left-field line in the eighth added an insurance run. He finished 3-for-5, and moved past Jose Canseco for 10th place on Oakland's all-time hits list (1,052).
Brad Ziegler allowed a harmless run in the ninth and nailed down the save, part of an impressive four innings from the A's bullpen.
The A's trailed 2-0 but broke through for three runs in the fourth, after which Giambi sensed a collective sigh of relief in the dugout. Run-scoring singles from Cust and Mark Ellis were sandwiched around Travis Buck's RBI groundout to put the A's up 3-2.
The Angels tied the game in the fifth, a rally that started with Cust dropping a shallow fly off the bat of Vladimir Guerrero, who reached second.
Cahill then made an alert play, fielding Torii Hunter's comebacker and catching Guerrero in a rundown. Hunter would make it to second base on the play, however, and scored the tying run when Kendry Morales lined a single to center.
At 21 years and 37 days old, Cahill became the seventh youngest pitcher to start a game for Oakland.
According to baseball-reference.com, he was just the 16th pitcher since 1954 to make his big league debut in one of the first two games of the season.
Manager Bob Geren said Cahill will learn to control his sinker, a challenge because Cahill's pitches have so much movement.
"It was a good first step for him," Geren said.
Geren was hopeful Holliday could return tonight.
Contact Joe Stiglich at firstname.lastname@example.org.