Gray puts A's back in driver's seat at Angel Stadium
By Alden Gonzalez and Jane Lee
ANAHEIM -- Sonny Gray continued to dominate, and the A's rallied against the Angels' bullpen, scoring a combined eight runs on nine hits in the seventh and eighth innings to capture a 9-2 victory at Angel Stadium on Wednesday night.
"I feel like this team smells blood really well, and when we get one hit," said A's catcher Stephen Vogt, "they start to keep going and keep going."
Jered Weaver kept pace with Gray through six frames, but the A's (8-8) broke a 1-1 tie and separated themselves against the Angels' bullpen with a five-run seventh.
Cesar Ramos gave up a go-ahead RBI single to Vogt with two on and two outs, then Vinnie Pestano let four more runs come in, on a wild pitch, a two-run homer by Billy Butler and an RBI single by Brett Lawrie. Oakland loaded the bases with no outs in the eighth off Mike Morin, then got a sac fly by Vogt, an RBI single by Butler and a run-scoring groundout by Ike Davis. Butler, who had an RBI groundout in the first, ended the night with four RBIs.
The A's, who finished with a season-high 18 hits, have taken two of the first three in this four-game series.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Sonny shines: Gray continued his strong start to the season by holding the Angels to two hits in seven innings. The right-hander allowed just one run, walked two and struck out seven, showcasing a devastating slider along the way. Gray lowered his ERA to 1.91 through four starts, including an 0.81 mark in three starts against American League West competition.
"He's an ace," Angels third baseman David Freese said. "He's the kind of guy that, when he's on the mound, Oakland knows they have a pretty good chance to win." More >
Weaver settling in: The Angels' ace set off a lot of red flags in his first two starts, while allowing 10 runs on 15 hits in 10 1/3 innings and throwing his fastball mostly at 83 mph. But Weaver pitched six innings of two-run ball on Friday and gave up only one run despite scattering eight hits in six innings on Wednesday. Weaver didn't issue a walk for the third time this season, but he was taken out despite throwing only 93 pitches, paving the way for a game-breaking seventh. More >
Two-out rally: The A's strung together five consecutive two-out hits against the Angels bullpen in the seventh, starting with Vogt. With runners at the corners, Vogt shot one through the right side against Ramos, a lefty, to drive in the go-ahead run. That's when Butler broke open the game, belting a two-run home run to dead center off Pestano, and the hit parade continued with Davis, Josh Reddick and Lawrie, leading to another run.
"Vogt coming up there with two outs was huge," said Gray. "Lefty on lefty, that's not a very easy matchup for anyone. Everyone was able to take a deep breath."
Missed opportunity: With the score knotted at 1-1 in the third, the Angels loaded the bases after back-to-back one-out walks by Kole Calhoun and Mike Trout. But Albert Pujols struck out on a 2-2 slider in the dirt and David Freese's infield popup ended the inning. The Angels never had another runner in scoring position against Gray.
"That's the key to the game right there, at that time, getting out of that," said A's manager Bob Melvin. "And that's what he does. That's where the competitiveness shows up and he kicks in another gear and makes pitches when he has to, and on some pretty tough customers. We've seen it before. It doesn't surprise you."
"As soon as I realized Trout was coming in, I said, 'Wow. I'm going to throw it right in the middle and see how far he's going to hit it.'" -- A's right-hander Arnold Leon, who made his big league debut in the ninth inning and got Trout to fly out to shallow center More >
"I didn't have it today. It's tough to come in here and look at guys in the eyes after battling that hard. This team's been battling all year. Weave definitely threw a great game today. It's tough." -- Pestano, on a rough outing that led to the A's pulling away.More >
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
The 93 pitches Weaver threw marked his season high. Besides his rookie year in 2006 and a '13 season that began with a fractured left elbow, Weaver has never gone the first four starts without throwing at least 100 pitches in one of them.
UPON FURTHER REVIEW
The Angels burned their challenge in the very first inning, when a replay review determined that a safe call on Sam Fuld's swipe of second base would stand. Johnny Giavotella thought he kept his tag on Fuld as the A's center fielder momentarily came off the bag when he popped up from his slide, and Angels manager Mike Scioscia challenged the call. There wasn't enough conclusive video evidence to overturn it, and the Angels moved to 2-for-7 in challenges. Fuld scored on Butler's groundout two batters later.
WHAT'S NEXT Angels: Nick Tropeano was promoted from Triple-A Salt Lake to start against the A's in Thursday's series finale at Angel Stadium, beginning at 4:05 p.m. PT on Fox Sports West. Tropeano gave up five runs on 10 hits and two walks in 11 innings in the Minors, striking out 12. More >
A's: Oakland will counter with Jesse Chavez, who has given the A's 6 2/3 scoreless innings out of the bullpen this season. Chavez, who is starting in place of Jesse Hahn (blister), was 8-7 with a 3.44 ERA in 21 starts for Oakland last year.