Hahn finds groove, flashes confidence in return

Hahn finds groove, flashes confidence in return

OAKLAND -- Jesse Hahn delivered his strongest start of the season, throwing a season-high 7 2/3 innings in Oakland's 3-2 win over the Rays Sunday.

Hahn scattered four hits and was charged with one run, blending a powerful sinker with an arcing curveball that kept Rays batters off-balance for much of the game. He came within an out of his third win of the season, but Logan Forsythe hit a two-run homer off Ryan Dull, who had relieved Hahn, to tie it in the top of the eighth.

Billy Butler answered with a go-ahead homer in the bottom of the inning, giving Oakland its third straight win and plenty to feel optimistic about moving forward -- including Hahn.

"I just feel great right now," Hahn said. "I was working on a lot of things in Nashville to get back to where I was last year. I think they're all starting to come together."

It was Hahn's first start in the Majors in nearly six weeks. He posted a 6.49 ERA in seven starts this year, including a 22.85 ERA in two starts in June, and was optioned to Triple-A Nashville on June 10. The righty sought to repair his confidence in the Minors, and also to make mechanical adjustments to improve his rhythm.

Hahn's worked to keep his hands tighter to his body throughout his delivery, especially during his leg-kick. A's manager Bob Melvin said Hahn's times on his delivery to the plate were more consistent, which should generate stronger command.

"We made him do a lot of difficult things with development down there to get himself back to where he was," Melvin said. "Rhythm is one of those keys for him."

He was comfortable early, retiring 10 of the first 11 batters he faced and allowing only one Rays batter to reach second base.

"He pitched similar to the way we saw him last year when he was on a roll," Melvin said.

Hahn went 6-6 with a 3.35 ERA in 16 starts last season and was expected to be a key cog in the middle of Oakland's rotation this year. His season didn't begin like he hoped, but he his confidence was clear Sunday.

"I had command of all my pitches," Hahn said. "I found a good rhythm, a good tempo. Bruce Maxwell did an unbelievable job calling the game."

Hahn was the third straight A's starter to pitch at least 7 2/3 innings, following Kendall Graveman's complete game Saturday and Sean Manaea's eight-inning gem Friday. The A's are 7-3 over their last 10 games, and have won three consecutive series for the first time since 2014.

Mark Chiarelli is a reporter for MLB.com based in the Bay Area. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.