STOCKTON. Calif. - The Oakland A's top two pitching prospects did not disappoint on Tuesday night at Banner Island Ballpark. A.J. Puk and Jesus Luzardo, returning from Tommy John surgery and a shoulder injury, respectively, combined to allow one run over five total innings and looked sharp as they got the Stockton Ports off to a strong start in a 4-3 victory over the San Jose Giants to close out a five-game series.
Puk started the game for Stockton and worked his scheduled two innings while allowing just one hit, a solo home run to Heliot Ramos with two outs in the first inning that gave the Giants a 1-0 lead. It was the only hit and run allowed by Puk, who issued one walk and struck out four. He threw 33 pitches, 22 for strikes.
Luzardo came on to open the third and worked three scoreless frames, allowing two singles while striking out two without issuing a walk. Luzardo threw 33 pitches, 24 for strikes.
Giants starter Sean Hjelle pitched around four hits allowed over the first three innings but made a mistake with two outs in the fourth. With a man on, Hjelle allowed a two-run homer to Jonah Bride that gave the Ports a 2-1 lead. Those were the only runs allowed by Hjelle, who did not factor into the decision after going six innings and allowing six hits while walking one and striking out six.
San Jose grabbed the lead back in the top of the seventh inning facing Ports reliever Wandisson Charles (1-0). Charles hit Joey Bart to start the inning and then gave up a single to Courtney Hawkins that put runners at the corners. David Villar followed with an RBI single to left that tied the game at 2-2. Two batters later, Manuel Geraldo broke the tie with a single to left field that gave San Jose a 3-2 advantage.
Stockton leapfrogged in front in the bottom of the seventh facing Giants reliever Caleb Simpson (1-2). Simpson gave up a single to Jeremy Eierman and then hit Bride and walked Mickey McDonald to load the bases with nobody out. Robert Mullen came up and delivered a two-run single to left that gave Stockton a 4-3 advantage.
Simpson would suffer the loss as he allowed two runs on two hits in his lone inning of work. Charles, who allowed two runs over two innings, would pick up his first California League victory for Stockton.
Peter Bayer worked a scoreless eighth for the Ports and Nick Highberger (SV, 3) worked around a leadoff single by Hawkins in the ninth, inducing a double-play and a groundout to close out the ballgame and notch his third save of the season.
After taking four of five from San Jose, the Ports begin a five-game series in at John Thurman Field on Wednesday night with the Modesto Nuts. Brady Feigl (4-2, 3.20 ERA) makes the start for Stockton, opposed by Modesto right-hander Ljay Newsome (5-3, 3.50 ERA). First pitch is set for 7:05 p.m. PDT.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.