Gray sees progress despite 2nd straight loss

'It's definitely the best I've felt all year,' A's ace says

Gray sees progress despite 2nd straight loss

OAKLAND -- His final pitching line was ugly, leaving his ERA higher than it's been at any point in his career, but there were plenty reasons to look past Sonny Gray's numbers Tuesday night.

Taking the loss in an 8-2 decision to the Mariners, after surrendering a career-high-tying seven runs and 11 hits, Gray said, "it's definitely the best I've felt all year."

"I thought I threw the ball well," he said. "It was just really unfortunate the way it turned out."

"He wasn't trying to be too fine like he's normally throwing on the edges, he was just trying to throw strikes, and he was throwing all of his pitches for strikes," catcher Josh Phegley said. "Everything had the normal action it was supposed to have on it, and just the consistency of throwing what he wanted to throw and when he wanted to throw it. He needs to just trust it and go with it and just get back to the normal Sonny."

Gray, carrying a 4.84 ERA after yielding 18 runs in his last five starts, indeed threw more strikes and stayed aggressive in the zone. But he was done in by a pair of homers to Leonys Martin and Robinson Cano, which amounted to three runs.

The right-hander gave up a fourth run in the seventh, but he returned for the eighth at just 87 pitches, only to watch the game escape him. Consecutive hits to Cano and Nelson Cruz put runners at the corners for Adam Lind, whose shallow popup to right field dropped between a triangle of A's defenders, leading manager Bob Melvin to turn to lefty Marc Rzepczynski.

That's when Kyle Seager smashed a three-run homer to right field, tacking on two more earned runs to Gray's line.

"I thought his stuff was really good at times," Melvin said. "Really the one bad pitch was probably the one to Martin, and then Cano hits a pretty good pitch out to left. But up until that point, I thought he was back on track with his stuff, the movement, down in the zone, and then it just got a little bit out of hand at the end."

Gray fans Cano

"It's weird, you pitch into the eighth inning and you walk away and come out with a really bad start," said Gray, who lasted just two innings in his previous start in Detroit. "Just a really weird game tonight.

"You look back, and I didn't really do my job. I didn't really put us in a good position to win. Pitching into the eighth is good and all, but not when you give up seven runs."

Each run was magnified as a result of Oakland's hitting woes. The A's managed just six hits and have scored three runs or fewer in eight of their last 11 games.

"I don't think we should count on the pitchers to throw a shutout every time to win games," Phegley said. "We just need to get the bats rolling and score some more runs.

"I thought Sonny threw the ball well. I know he's been scuffling, but I think he found his stuff tonight, and I don't know if he's trusting it as much as he should, but he looked like he had his normal stuff, and I think that's a good starting point for him to get back on track."

Jane Lee has covered the A's for MLB.com since 2010. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.