For Arnold Leon, confidence was the gift that kept on giving Wednesday night. The A's right-hander started with a little bit and wound up getting a lot out of it.
"He had a real good bullpen," said Triple-A Sacramento pitching coach Rick Rodriguez. "He was happy with his pregame, and he was able to execute once he got out there. As that carried over inning by inning, his confidence grew greater and greater."
The 25-year-old righty cruised through six innings, allowing two hits without a walk while striking out two in the River Cats' 3-0 win over the Express at Round Rock's Dell Diamond. Leon (7-2) lowered his ERA to 4.92 in the Pacific Coast League.
"It was obviously his best performance of the year. He had a really good fastball, just great fastball command," Rodriguez said. "He threw the ball down and didn't miss over the plate. If he threw down and away and missed, he missed down and away."
Eric O'Flaherty -- on a rehab assignment after Tommy John surgery -- preceded Justin Marks and Jeremy McBryde, and all three threw perfect innings in relief to help Sacramento cement its second shutout this season, the first on the road.
"That's really good," said Rodriguez, who played four years in the big leagues.
"Shutouts are always fun. In fact, the hitting coach [Greg Sparks] and I were talking about it, and one of us said it might be the first one of the road. It's always special, and it's great to do it on the road and to have everyone involved, especially the bullpen. They did a great job to hold the lead."
The first hit Leon permitted came in a seven-pitch at-bat against the Express' Jared Hoying, a one-out single through the right side in the second inning. Rodriguez was pleased with the way his starter battled after falling behind, 2-1.
"[Leon] was trying to get back in and throw strikes," he said, "and [Hoying] got one on the plate."
The Mexican-born hurler retired the next nine hitters in a row.
"His velocity was good, but it was his command that was really special. He had a really good slider too, and he threw only a couple changeups," Rodriguez said.
"He was having fun out there."
With one out in the fifth, Round Rock's Carlos Pena dropped a single into right field and was thrown out by rehabbing Josh Reddick as he tried to stretch it into a double.
"They were trying to get him on a back-door slider, and it caught too much of the plate," Rodriguez said of Leon's 1-0 offering to Pena.
Leon set down the next four in a row and handed the game over to the bullpen.
"Eric O'Flaherty showed a great sinker and dominated down in the strike zone," Rodriguez said. "Marksy did a great job did a great job with the 1-2-3 inning, getting those lefties [Hoying and Pena] out.
"McBryde, I think he left some pitches maybe a little up in the zone, but his fastball was really good. All three of those guys came in and did a great job."
Reddick went 1-for-3 at the plate, and Nate Freiman hit his 12th PCL home run, his third in four games.