Neal the real deal in A's win over Orioles

Neal the real deal in A's win over Orioles

OAKLAND -- The A's silenced one of the American League's strongest offenses for the second straight night, holding on to beat the Orioles, 2-1, on Tuesday night at the Coliseum.

Runs have been scarce through two games. So when Orioles second baseman Jonathan Schoop advanced to third base with one out in the sixth inning Tuesday night, it appeared to be a pivotal moment to manufacture Baltimore's second run of the game.

Instead, A's reliever Liam Hendriks wiggled out of the jam, getting two straight outs to end the inning. He then came out for the seventh inning and sent Manny Machado, Chris Davis and Mark Trumbo down in order, leaving the mound with a strong fist pump and the 2-1 lead intact.

Baltimore struggled with A's sinkerballer Kendall Graveman on Monday and didn't fare much better against Zach Neal on Tuesday. Neal, making only his second start of the year, also features a sinker and allowed just one run over 5 1/3 innings -- an Adam Jones homer in the fourth inning. He won for just the second time this year and lowered his ERA to 4.60.

"I saw something on MLB [Network] that they led the AL in homers," Neal said of the O's. "So I knew I had to keep the ball down and mix my speeds. Spot up a little bit. If I did that, I knew I'd be all right."

Neal's counterpart, Wade Miley, was solid, despite not having much margin for error. He allowed three straight hits to open the third inning, including an RBI double by Danny Valencia, who later scored on a sacrifice fly from Khris Davis to give Oakland a 2-0 lead. Miley took his second consecutive loss since being acquired from the Mariners on July 31.

"Their guy pitched well and we didn't swing the bats well," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "We made a lot of weak contact. It's a challenge but we still have an eternity of a season left."

A combination of Hendriks, John Axford and Ryan Madson were solid out of the A's bullpen, and Madson saved his 24th game of the year. The Orioles have scored just three runs over the first two games of this four-game series, and are 63-49 with the loss. They remain tied with the Blue Jays in first place in the American League East.

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Neal exceeds expectations: Neal made just one previous start, giving up seven runs to the Mariners on May 25, and has pitched primarily in long relief with the A's this year. He had pitched more than three innings in the Majors just once prior to Tuesday and entered on a somewhat limited pitch count, as A's manager Bob Melvin estimated he could throw about 80 pitches. Neal was efficient, allowing two runners over his 5 1/3 innings with 72 pitches, and is expected to make another start Sunday.

"Boy that was impressive," Melvin said. "When you finally come around to get a start and you have to face those guys ... like we talked about yesterday, you don't think about who I'm having to face. You try to make pitches. For a guy that's thrown 39-40 pitches, top, for us in relief here recently, to give us 75-80 is what I was looking for from him and he was terrific. Real impressive outing."

Neal fans Machado in the 4th

Jones goes deep: Jones led off the fourth inning with his 22nd home run. It gave him 1,403 hits with the Orioles, tying him with Al Bumbry for 10th place on the O's all-time list. It was also the Orioles first hit of the game and came the inning after the A's pulled in front. Jones also singled in the ninth.

"We kept hitting a lot of ground balls," Jones said. "We hit it right at guys."

Jones' solo smash in the 4th

Hendriks slams the door: Hendriks has allowed just six earned runs since coming off the DL on June 19, incrementally receiving more responsibility in the bullpen. Melvin called on Hendriks with a runner on third and one out in the sixth and he delivered, wiggling out of a jam to preserve the 2-1 lead. Hendriks pitched a 1-2-3 seventh inning, fanning Trumbo and leaving the mound with a fist pump.

"I think it's one of those things that I'm starting to get more comfortable on the mound with everything around here," Hendriks said. "And I think they're starting to get more confidence in me. It's good. Hopefully I can keep rewarding them by putting up zeros." More >

Melvin on the 2-1 win

QUOTABLE
"You have to remember that he's two years removed from being a shortstop." -- Showalter on reliever Mychel Givens, who threw two scoreless innings.

WHAT'S NEXT
Orioles: Yovani Gallardo goes for the Orioles on Wednesday night at 10:05 p.m. ET. He's coming off a victory in which he allowed two runs in seven innings. Gallardo is winless in five starts against the A's.

Athletics: Ross Detwiler makes his A's debut Wednesday at 7:05 p.m. PT at the Coliseum. Oakland acquired Detwiler from the Indians on July 17 and assigned him to Triple-A, where he went 4-0 with a 3.86 ERA in four outings (three starts). He posted a 5.79 ERA in seven relief appearances with Cleveland this year before being designated for assignment April 29.

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Mark Chiarelli is a reporter for MLB.com based in the Bay Area and covered the A's on Tuesday.

Rick Eymer is a contributor to MLB.com and covered the Orioles on Tuesday.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.