Sonny's South Side start spirals swiftly

Ace works 3-plus innings, allows seven runs

Sonny's South Side start spirals swiftly

CHICAGO -- Sonny Gray's promising path to the Cy Young Award hit a speed bump at U.S. Cellular Field on Monday, when the A's ace endured the worst start of his burgeoning career.

Gray is typically the bright spot when seemingly nothing else is for the A's, whose disappointing season reached new heights in a 14-inning, 8-7 loss to the White Sox in which Gray was responsible for seven runs without even recording an out in the fourth inning.

The right-hander began the day just a hair off Dallas Keuchel's American League-leading 2.22 ERA. But the seven earned runs -- a new career high -- pushed it from 2.28 to 2.56, third in the AL.

Though certainly respectable, Gray's Cy Young chances have taken a hit.

He remains focused on his next start, though, after enduring the rarest of bad ones.

"I'm not going to look too much into it," said Gray, who entered with a 1.72 ERA in 14 road starts. "That was tough, but you just keep going."

The night began like most any other Gray starts, a swift 1-2-3 first inning that required just six pitches. The second proved ominous when he loaded the bases on a double and a pair of walks, but he was able to exit it unscathed before finding more trouble in the third.

A pair of two-run homers from Jose Abreu and Trayce Thompson wiped away Oakland's premature one-run lead, and things only worsened in the fourth, when Gray boarded each of his first five batters, including two by walk, and three more runs scored before manager Bob Melvin turned to Fernando Rodriguez.

"The homers were down, just probably caught a little bit more of the middle of the plate than he normally does with those pitches," said Melvin, whose club recorded its Major League-leading 32nd one-run loss.

"Everything I threw was kind of moving the opposite way than what I thought it was," Gray explained. "I didn't throw enough strikes, and I would throw a two-seamer and it would cut, and I would throw a four-seamer and it would kind of sink. I definitely wasn't on what I was trying to do, and they made me pay for a couple of pitches, and any time you go out there and walk guys, it's going to hurt."

As a starter, the three innings were a career low for Gray, who yielded eight hits and four walks with four strikeouts.

What happened thereafter was similarly bewildering, with a beleaguered A's bullpen working 10 scoreless innings before Arnold Leon surrendered a walk-off single to Melky Cabrera in the 14th.

"That was something special," Gray said.

Jane Lee is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Major Lee-ague, and follow her on Twitter @JaneMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.