BALTIMORE (AP) — Oakland’s Sonny Gray has been so effective this season that sometimes people assume the right-hander is going to shut down the opposition every game.
So when the right-hander struggled in a 6-3 loss to the Baltimore Orioles on Saturday night, Oakland manager Bob Melvin said it was a reminder that Gray is still a young pitcher and it’s inevitable that there will be some growing pains along the way.
“I’m not concerned,” Melvin said. “You’re not going to be perfect throughout the course of a season. I think we hold him to such a high standard and expect him to go out and throw a shutout almost every time. You’re going to have periods where you’re not at your very best.”
Orioles right-hander Kevin Gausman earned his first win as a starter, while Adam Jones and David Lough each homered to even the three-game series at one game apiece.
Gray (6-2) allowed a season-high five runs on four hits and four walks in 5 1-3 innings, his shortest outing of the year.
Coco Crisp got three hits for Oakland. He connected in the third for his fourth home run, and extended his hitting streak to a season-high 11 games.
“I felt really good there early in the game, then it was like four or five hitters, and the game just kind of blew up on me right there,” Gray said. “I just went out and started throwing balls, and I don’t know why. I got behind a lot of hitters that inning, and it was just too many balls.”
Called up from Triple-A Norfolk earlier in the day, Gausman (1-1) set career highs by pitching seven innings and striking out six.
The fourth overall pick in the 2012 draft, Gausman gave up one run on four hits and a walk. He had made six previous starts in the majors over two seasons.
“It’s always huge when you get a win, especially against a team like the A’s,” Gausman said. “They’re playing great baseball right now. It’s been a fun series to watch so far. Hopefully, we can win the series tomorrow.”
Jones hit his ninth homer, a solo shot in the first. Lough, who entered the game batting just .184, hit his second homer. Jones said the difference in the game was how Gausman contained Oakland’s powerful lineup.
“He’s getting the opportunity,” Jones said. “This game is all about confidence. It’s not necessarily about stuff. Your stuff will get you here, but your confidence. Now he’s going to get his shot to start. I told him, ‘Hey, go after him. Use your stuff. You’ve got a good arm for a reason, so use your stuff and go after them.'”
It was 1-all before Baltimore scored three times in the fifth to give Gausman a cushion. Lough drew a one-out walk and Caleb Joseph followed with a double, setting up RBI singles by Nick Markakis and Manny Machado.
The A’s threatened in the sixth when Alberto Callaspo and Eric Sogard led off with singles and advanced on a wild pitch. Gausman escaped by striking out Josh Donaldson and Brandon Moss.
“Kevin was good, really good,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “Got his feet on the ground. I thought Caleb and him worked real well together. I wanted Caleb catching him today. He had caught him, obviously, in Norfolk. Good split, got enough breaking balls over to show a third pitch, established the inner half of the plate. He’s got pretty good stuff. He got in a couple situations and went and got another level, which was good to see.”
After a walk to J.J. Hardy ended Gray’s night, former Orioles closer Jim Johnson entered and allowed a two-run homer to Lough on his second pitch that extended Baltimore’s lead 6-1. Johnson got only two outs, allowing two hits.
The A’s pulled to 6-3 in the eighth when Brian Matusz gave up a walk to Sogard and a double to Crisp. Darren O’Day entered and gave up a two-run single to Kyle Blanks.
“He pitched pretty well,” Oakland manager Bob Melvin said of Gausman. “He hit 99 (mph), and he started mixing it up and pitching a little differently. His two-seamer was significantly different from his four-seamer, in terms of velocity and movement. Then he started throwing his slider for a strike and putting away some splits.”
NOTES: Orioles RHP Miguel Gonzalez (strained right oblique) will throw a bullpen session Sunday or Monday and then could possibly begin a rehab start later in the week. … Baltimore optioned LHP Tim Berry to Double-A Bowie to make room for Gausman. … Oakland has homered in 15 consecutive games, eight games shy of the club record. … Oakland LHP Scott Kazmir (6-2, 2.40 ERA) faces Orioles’ RHP Ubaldo Jimenez (2-6, 4.39) in the series finale. … Johnson faced his former team for the first time and drew a mixed reaction from the sold-out crowd.
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