Instant Replay: A's 6, Padres 4

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Instant Replay: A's 6, Padres 4

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OAKLAND Petalumas Jonny Gomes snapped an 0-for-34 slump as a pinch-hitter with a go-ahead two-run homer in the seventh inning as the As beat the San Diego Padres 6-4 to up their season-long win streak to five games.Starting pitching report: Tyson Ross allowed no hits through five innings and was briefly in line for his third win of the season with six solid innings in his first big-league start since May 30.Manager Bob Melvin said before Saturdays game that he wanted to see improvement on Ross secondary pitches. Ross was perfect in the first inning, striking out both Everth Cabrera and Chase Headley on sliders.Ross wasnt as sharp in the second inning, hitting Carlos Quentin with a pitch to put the leadoff man on. Quentin advanced to second on a wild pitch and catcher Kurt Suzuki bailed Ross out on two other pitches way outside the strike zone. But Ross recovered to escape unscathed as he worked a fly out from Mark Kotsay and groundouts from Yonder Alonso and Cameron Maybin.The third inning was an enigma for Ross, as he went first-pitch fly out, walk, first-pitch fly out, walk to start the frame. Headley swung at another slider for a strikeout, though, to get Ross out of the self-inflicted jam.Ross issued his third walk of the game with one out in the fourth, but erased it with a strike em out, throw em out double play. Alonso swung through a slider for Ross fourth strikeout of the afternoon and Suzuki gunned down Kotsay to end the inning. Suzuki allowed steals on 16 consecutive attempts this season, but has since tossed out six of the last nine would-be thieves.Three straight fly balls to the outfield helped Ross cruise through the fifth, but his no-hitter and shutout bid both came to an end in the sixth. After back-to-back strikeouts, Ross issued his fourth walk to Headley, who came around to score on Quentins fifth home run, a shot that barely cleared the yellow line above the out-of-town scoreboard in left.Ross completed the inning, but was replaced by Sean Doolittle to start the seventh with the As leading 3-2.His final line: 6 IP, 1 H, 2 ER, 4 BB, 6 K.Bullpen report: Doolittle, who entered the game having struck out 10 of the 19 batters he faced since his call up on June 4, gave up a double to Alonso to lead off the seventh. He then went strikeout, walk, strikeout, before giving up a bases-clearing double to Will Venable for a 4-3 Padres lead. Both hits in the inning off the southpaw Doolittle were from left-handed batters.One-time closer Grant Balfour got the call in the eighth and soon had runners on the corners. He issued a one-out walk to Quentin, who hustled to third on a single by Kotsay, but got out of the jam when Allen snagged a sharp line drive off the bat of Alonso and doubled up Kotsay at first.New closer Ryan Cook came in for his fourth opportunity of the season and snagged a sharp comebacker from Cameron Maybin and threw to first for a quick out to start the ninth. Cook sruck out John Baker looking and and Jesus Guzman swinging for his third save.At the plate: After scoring at least eight runs in their last four games, the As had a more pedestrian day at the plate on Saturday, finishing with six runs on eight hits.No Athletic reached base until No. 9 hitter Cliff Pennington worked a two-out walk off Padres starter Ross Ohlendorf in the third inning. Pennington promptly stole second, and then watched as Ohlendorf issued a free pass to Coco Crisp. With a chance to drive in the games first run, Weeks worked a 3-2 count to put the runners in motion, but hit a weak fly ball to left to end the threat.The As broke through against Ohlendorf in the fourth inning, as Seth Smith hit home run No. 7, all of which have come as an outfielder instead of as a designated hitter, for a 1-0 lead. Oakland added another run as Colin Cowgill singled to left to drive in Brandon Moss, who had doubled high off the right-field wall to start a two-out rally.Ohlendorf was knocked out of the game in the fifth inning as the As took a 3-0 lead thanks to Pennington and Weeks. The former led off the inning with a single and the latter drove him in with a double to right-center field. Josh Reddicks deep fly ball to right-center allowed Weeks to tag up and advance to third. Padres manager Bud Black then took the ball from Ohlendorf and turned it over to Alex Hinshaw, who drilled Smith before striking out Brandon Inge looking to end the inning.The As went down in order in the sixth, but put together another rally in the seventh. With runners on the corners and lefty Joe Thatcher on the mound, Melvin pinch-hit right-hander Jonny Gomes for the left-hander Smith. After Thatcher fell behind Gomes 1-0, Black made a mid at-bat pitching change, turning to right-hander Luke Gregerson. Blacks move didnt pay off, as Gregerson bounced the first pitch he threw in the dirt, allowing Pennington to score from third standing up to tie the game. Gomes broke the tie quickly, launching a 3-1 fastball from Gregerson deep into the left-field seats. The two-run homer snapped an 0-for-34 streak as a pinch-hitter for the veteran from Petaluma.Weeks and Cowgill finished with two hits apiece, while Crisp, Reddick, Inge and Suzuki were all hitless.

A's have their work cut out as they welcome back Sonny, Rajai

A's have their work cut out as they welcome back Sonny, Rajai

HOUSTON — If the A’s eventually want to return to the American League West mountaintop, they got a good look at the team they’ll have to conquer.

The Astros boast one of the majors’ most talented and athletic rosters, with enough of a youthful core to suggest they’ll be battling for division supremacy for years to come. They took two of three from Oakland at Minute Maid Park, capped by Sunday’s 7-2 decision in which left-hander Dallas Keuchel held the A’s to just three hits over 7 2/3 innings.

The loss ended a season-opening stretch in which the A’s played 22 of their first 25 against AL West foes. They saw every team in the division at least once, going 9-13 in that stretch and 11-14 overall for the month of April.

It’s tough to glean too much from one month of play, but the Astros (16-9) so far are living up to the hype that stems from several notable offseason additions they made. They hold a three-game lead over the second-place Los Angeles Angels, with Oakland and Texas both five games back and Seattle 5 1/2 back.

Before the A’s bother worrying about who they have to knock off at the top, there are baby steps to conquer.

They need to generate some consistent offense, which has been lacking in their 1-5 start to this nine-game road trip. With that in mind, they’ll gladly welcome back center fielder Rajai Davis, who is expected to return from a strained left hamstring and rejoin the lineup Tuesday in Minnesota.

Also Tuesday, Sonny Gray will make his 2017 debut after missing the first four weeks with a strained lat muscle in his right side. One of the primary April storylines for the A’s involved the players they lost to injury. Now, they at least draw some optimism from the ones they’ll welcome back.

“We need to get these guys back,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “We’ve been leaning on (backup center fielder) Jaff Decker a little harder than we need to. You get Raj back doing his thing at the top of the lineup and get your No. 1 pitcher back, hopefully this is a trend on an upward swing as far as getting players back, as opposed to losing them like we have been.”

Jesse Hahn, who took Sunday’s loss, could eventually be out of a rotation spot with Gray’s return. But that decision gets delayed with fellow starter Sean Manaea having just joined the 10-day disabled list with a strained shoulder.

Hahn was solid Sunday, going six innings and allowing four runs (two earned). But he got a taste of the diverse ways that Houston can beat a pitcher. The Astros have speed, as they showed in the first inning when George Springer beat out an infield single and scored all the way from first on Carlos Correa’s double.

They also have run producers up and down the batting order. Evan Gattis, who clubbed 32 homers last season, hit seventh Sunday and drove an RBI double to left that just missed being a two-run homer.

“One through nine, it’s a solid lineup over there,” Hahn said. “You can’t take any pitches off, any at-bats off. You’ve almost got to treat every guy the same or they can hurt you.”

Catcher Josh Phegley says the A’s have a good read on the rest of the division and the challenge that sits before him and his teammates.

“We’ve seen the teams we’re gonna face most of the year. We get a feel for their bullpen, some of the subs they make during the game,” he said. “I like the way our team stacks up against everyone else.”

But the A’s have their work cut out. Last year, they were 13-12 at the end of April, just 1 1/2 games out of first place before eventually finishing in the cellar. As they begin this May, they are three games under .500 and already five games out.

Help is on the way with the return of Gray and Davis. Now the A’s need to parlay that into some victories.

 

Instant Replay: Too much Keuchel, A's drop series to Astros

Instant Replay: Too much Keuchel, A's drop series to Astros

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HOUSTON – The A’s got a sampling of what’s made Dallas Keuchel one of the majors’ top pitchers through the first month.

The Astros lefty pitched into the eighth and allowed just one Athletic to advance past first base as Oakland absorbed a 7-2 loss in the rubber game of this weekend series at Minute Maid Park.

After an off-year in 2016, Keuchel has regained his 2015 Cy Young-winning form, becoming the American League’s first five-game winner of 2017. He held the A’s to three hits over 7 2/3 innings, as the A’s fell to 1-5 so far on this three-city road trip. They’ve been held to two or fewer runs in five of their past seven games.

Jesse Hahn (1-2) turned in a quality start for the A’s, going six innings and giving up four runs (two earned) on eight hits. The Astros got a run off him in the first when George Springer beat out an infield hit and scored from first on Carlos Correa’s double down the left-field line. Evan Gattis’ double off the top of the left field wall scored another run in the fourth for a 2-0 lead.

Then a key play came in the fifth. Brian McCann hit a sharp bouncer toward first that took a big hop and got past Ryon Healy for a two-run single and a four-run cushion that Keuchel (5-0) wasn’t going to let slip away.

The A’s closed April with an 11-14 record and trail first-place Houston by five games

Starting pitching report

With Sonny Gray returning from the disabled list, Hahn is trying to prove he deserves to stick in the rotation moving forward. He was coming off an outstanding performance in Anaheim, when he held the Angels to one hit over eight innings. He wasn’t as sharp Sunday, but he wasn’t terrible either. The right-hander struck out six and didn’t issue a walk, but his command betrayed him a bit in the fourth. With one out, he hit Yuli Gurriel with a pitch and then advanced him to second with a wild pitch. Hahn fell behind Gattis 3-1 when the A’s killer hit a run-scoring double to left that fell just a few feet short of being a home run. The Astros’ two-run rally in the fifth was aided by Josh Reddick reaching base on yet another catchers’ interference play. Stephen Vogt was called for the infraction twice Friday night with Reddick hitting. Josh Phegley was behind the plate Sunday.

Bullpen report

Any thoughts of an A’s ninth-inning comeback were dashed when Frankie Montas served up a three-run homer to Marwin Gonzalez in the bottom of the eighth. Oakland’s bullpen has surrendered 16 runs in 15 2/3 innings against the Astros this season for a 9.19 ERA.

At the plate

The A’s offense got cranking too little too late. Trailing 4-0 in the eighth, Adam Rosales singled and eventually came around to score on Ryon Healy’s two-out single. Rosales aided the rally with a steal of second base, which snapped a string of eight games without a stolen base for Oakland. They’re expecting to welcome Rajai Davis back from the disabled list Tuesday, and his speed is certainly needed with the offense scuffling. Down 7-1 in the ninth, Josh Phegley doubled and scored on Chad Pinder’s single. The A’s loaded the bases with two outs, prompting Astros manager A.J. Hinch to call on closer Ken Giles to retire Yonder Alonso for the final out.

In the field

Phegley’s catchers’ interference call went down as the game’s only error.

Attendance

The turnout was 34,880.

Up next

The A’s wrap this nine-game road trip with three at Minnesota. They went 4-2 against the Twins last year. Sonny Gray will make his first start of the season in Tuesday’s 5:10 opener, opposed by Ervin Santana (4-0, 0.77). Wednesday — Kendall Graveman (2-1, 2.25) vs. lefty Hector Santiago (2-1, 2.43), 5:10 p.m. Thursday — Jharel Cotton (2-3, 5.00) vs. Kyle Gibson (0-3, 8.06), 10:10 a.m.