OAKLAND -- Their 30-games-in-31-days stretch a thing of the past -- hey, the A's are now in the midst of a three-off-days-in-eight stretch -- Oakland looked refreshed and refocused for the start of an interleague series against Cincinnati on Tuesday.
At least, its offense (seven runs and seven hits) and relief pitching (five relievers allowed no runs) did.
And that was more than enough as the A's, courtesy of a 7-3 defeat of the Reds, won for just the second time in six games. Oakland jumped out to a 6-0 lead in the third inning, helped in part by Josh Donaldson's mammoth two-run home run, and A's pitching stranded nine Reds runners through six innings, leaving the bases loaded twice.
The A's (45-34) pulled into a virtual first-place tie with Texas (44-33), which fell in walk-off fashion to the New York Yankees earlier in the day.
Starting pitching report
Tommy Milone was sharp early and then, he was not. The left-hander walked a season-high four batters, the last three in succession, as his night ended after just 4 2/3 innings, a season low for Milone. He gave up three runs and six hits and also struck out two in 103 pitches, only 58 of which were strikes.
Pat Neshek came in with the bases loaded and two out in the fifth after Milone walked the sacks full and promptly struck out Chris Heisey on three pitches. And after Neshek allowed consecutive two-out singles, he gave way to Jerry Blevins, who hit Shin-Sin Choo to load the bases before getting Joey Votto to pop out to left field. Ryan Cook worked a scoreless seventh, Sean Doolittle did the same in the eighth and Dan Otero was ditto in the ninth.
At the plate
Donaldson's homer was just his second of June, his 11th of the season, as he continued his resurgence from a 1-for-21 slump. After going 2-4 against the Reds, he is now 11 for his last 33 over his last nine games. Seth Smith, meanwhile, extended his hitting streak to eight games. Brandon Moss and Josh Reddick hit doubles in the second inning. New callup Stephen Vogt went 0-3 to extend his big league hitting skid to 0-28, but his sacrifice fly out in the second scored Donaldson for a 2-0 lead.
In the field
Yoenis Cespedes likes playing left field. A lot. That way, you see, he gets to show off his cannon for an arm, as he did in the fourth inning. After Todd Frazier hit a rocket off the left-field wall, Cespedes quickly threw the ball back into the infield. A stunned Frazier was caught between first and second. And the result was your, ahem, typical 7-4-3-6 put out.
The A's announced a crowd of 17,506, which should not have affected the Coliseum's plumbing system…right?!?
A.J. Griffin (5-6, 3.90 ERA) has been struggling of late, going 0-3 with a 4.02 ERA in his last five starts. The right-hander has never faced the Reds in his career. Homer Bailey (4-5, 3.75) has faced the A's once in his career. In 2007, the right-hander went seven innings of a 5-2 victory in Oakland as he limited the A's to one run and two hits while walking four and striking out three in 93 pitches.