OAKLAND -- Hitting with two outs was not an issue for Jed Lowrie on Wednesday afternoon. The second baseman matched a career high with four hits, all with two outs, and he drove in a pair of runs in the A's 4-1 victory over the Marlins at Oakland Coliseum.
Lowrie's double off Edinson Volquez in the first inning extended the frame and set up Khris Davis' two-run homer. The A's, behind Sonny Gray's 11 strikeouts in seven innings, never looked back.
"When he's at his best, he's getting strikeouts, he's getting bad swings on his breaking balls, good command of his heater, throwing strikes, low pitch count, all of the above," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "Really good. And each time out, he gets better."
Gray limited the Marlins to three hits, and he walked one batter. Oakland's ace fell one K short of his career-high strikeout total and featured a sharp slider throughout the afternoon. Coupled with his eight-strikeout performance in his previous outing against Boston, Gray looks like the dominant right-hander he was before his injury-riddled 2016.
The 27-year-old said it's just been a matter of time after he missed the first month of the season with a lat strain.
"I'm finally starting to feel good and feel comfortable with being out there on the mound," Gray said. "It was definitely something that I could build off my last start, especially the last five innings of my last start. Just tried to continue to attack and pitch with conviction and go right after guys."
In the fifth inning, Lowrie delivered an RBI double off Volquez after Matt Joyce drew a walk. Volquez, who gave up three runs in six innings, fell to 0-7.
"He's a good hitter," Volquez said of Lowrie. "I didn't know what to throw to him. He was all over my fastball, changeup. Everything, he was on it. Give a lot of credit to him."
Davis' two-run shot to center was his 14th of the season. Statcast™ projected the blast at 388 feet with an exit velocity of 103.6 mph.
"One mistake, I threw a fastball to Davis, and the ball kept going," Volquez said. "I forgot how strong he is. I started walking to go back to the dugout, and the ball just carried all the way to the fence."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Tack-on runs: The Marlins, despite limited scoring chances, trailed by two runs in the seventh inning when Lowrie delivered a timely, two-out RBI single to right off Brad Ziegler. The score was 3-1 in favor of Oakland when Joyce collected a two-out hit. Lowrie widened the gap with his fourth hit of the day. The second baseman's average now sits at team-best .300 after the seventh four-hit day of his career. Melvin said Lowrie has benefited greatly from offseason surgeries -- one to remove a cyst from his left foot and another to repair a deviated septum and improve his sleep patterns.
"Really consistent the whole year," Melvin said. "Worked hard this offseason after the surgeries. Physically he feels better than he ever has. Durability-wise, he's been out there more. I consistently talk to him about DH -- no, he wants to play. His defense is better. The surgeries he had were very impactful for him."
Striking back after a wild pitch: Perfect through three innings with six strikeouts, Gray allowed a leadoff single to Dee Gordon to open the fourth inning. Giancarlo Stanton followed with a single to center that was, per Statcast™, ripped at 115.5 mph. Miami was in business with runners on first and third and no outs. Protecting a two-run lead, Gray struck out Marcell Ozuna, but on strike three, the ball bounced away from catcher Josh Phegley. The wild pitch allowed Gordon to score, and Stanton dashed all the way to third. But Gray got out of the jam, striking out Justin Bour and J.T. Realmuto, who was caught looking on a 3-2, 95-mph fastball.
"He was good," Marlins manager Don Mattingly said of Gray. "He's a guy with good stuff. I thought the first time through we helped him out a lot. Obviously, a guy with sharp stuff, you're going to swing at stuff. I thought we swung out of the strike zone the first time through, a little bit the second. We weren't really able to get anything going."
"It was pretty cool knowing that they were out there, knowing they wouldn't have missed it for anything. I'm really excited to have them out, all the way cross-country on short notice. I'm really glad they made it." -- Marlins reliever Drew Steckenrider, on having his family on hand for his big league debut, a scoreless eighth inning
"It's survival mode back there a lot of times. With two strikes, you see me go down to a knee or something when the ball's in the air. You got to cheat a little bit to get in front of that thing. When he's throwing it well, he gets swings and misses on it, and guys are not seeing it well." -- Phegley, on trying to catch Gray's slider
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
The Marlins went 2-4 on the road trip, and after winning 11-9 on Tuesday night, they were unable to win back-to-back games. Miami most recently won two in a row on April 22-23 at San Diego.
PRECAUTIONARY WITH DIETRICH
Marlins third baseman Derek Dietrich has been nursing a right hip/groin issue, which became obvious in the fifth inning. Dietrich tapped a slow roller to first in the fifth inning, and he stumbled coming out of the box. He trotted slowly to first base as Trevor Plouffe flipped to Gray for an out. In the ninth inning, after Dietrich walked, he was lifted for pinch-runner Christian Colon.
WHAT'S NEXT Marlins: Off on Thursday, the Marlins open a three-game series with the Angels on Friday at 7:10 p.m. ET on MLB.TV at Marlins Park. Dan Straily (2-3, 3.70 ERA) starts for Miami. Jesse Chavez (4-5, 4.61 ERA) takes the hill for the Angels, making their first trip to Marlins Park, which opened in 2012.
A's: The A's will rest on Thursday before opening a three-game set at Yankee Stadium on Friday night (4:05 p.m. PT on MLB.TV). Right-hander Kendall Graveman (2-2, 3.83 ERA) will take the mound, looking for his first win in six starts since returning from the disabled list due to a right shoulder strain.