OAKLAND -– Now the A’s know what all the fuss is about regarding Chicago White Sox slugger Jose Abreu.
Looking primed to roll toward another series sweep, the A’s instead were done in Wednesday by the lethal bat of the Major Leagues’ home run leader. Abreu crushed a three-run homer off Luke Gregerson in the eighth inning that sent the Sox to a 4-2 victory at the Coliseum.
The loss snapped Oakland’s season-high six-game winning streak and closed out a 10-game homestand on a flat note. The A’s made noise in the bottom of the ninth, putting the first two runners aboard against Chicago closer Matt Lindstrom. But Brandon Moss grounded into a 4-6-3 double play to stunt the rally, and Yoenis Cespedes flied out to center, with Leury Garcia making a diving catch to end it.
The game demonstrated that the A’s bullpen issues aren’t always relegated to the ninth inning. Gregerson had allowed just one earned run over his previous eight outings. But he wound up saddled with his Major League-high fifth blown save.
Abreu drilled an 0-1 pitch from Gregerson off the second deck façade in left for his 15th homer of the season. He also went deep in Monday’s series opener.
Starting pitching report
Milone has now faced the White Sox three times in his career and he’s allowed just two runs in 21 innings. After allowing Beckham’s homer to start the game, he allowed just one runner as far as third base. That was Beckham, who tried scoring from first on Conor Gillaspie’s double and was easily thrown out on a pretty 7-4-2 relay. Milone gave up just five hits, struck out four and walked none over six innings. Over his past two starts, the lefty has allowed just one run in 14 innings, striking out 11. Suddenly, with him and Drew Pomeranz throwing well, the back of Oakland’s rotation is looking more like a strength than a weakness.
Fernando Abad has looked more hittable in his recent outings. He gave up back to back singles leading up to Abreu’s homer. Dan Otero threw a scoreless seventh to temporarily preserve Oakland’s 2-1 lead.
At the plate
After watching Beckham go deep to lead off the game, John Jaso responded with his own homer to begin the bottom half of the inning. It marked the first time the A’s have played a game where both teams got leadoff homers since Aug. 30, 2002, when Ray Durham connected for Oakland and Jacque Jones did so for Minnesota. With Coco Crisp out, Jaso has hit leadoff four times in the past six games and he has three homers. The A’s went ahead 2-1 on Josh Donaldson’s opposite-field homer in the fourth. That marked Donaldson’s 11th go-ahead RBI this season, which leads the American League. But those two homers marked the A’s only hits through the first eight innings.
Oakland had something going in the sixth with Jaso at second and no outs. But after Jed Lowrie struck out, Jaso broke for third on a grounder right in front of him, and Sox shortstop Alexei Ramirez easily threw him out to snuff the rally.
In the field
The A’s executed the fifth-inning play at the plate to perfection to nail Beckham. Yoenis Cespedes did well to get to retrieve the ball and get it in quickly. Second baseman Eric Sogard delivered a strike to home plate, where Derek Norris received the ball in plenty of time to get Beckham.
A crowd of 18,035 showed up for the matinee on a very warm afternoon at the Coliseum.
The A’s begin a three-game set in Cleveland on Friday, with Sonny Gray (4-1, 2.17) matched up against Zach McAllister (3-3, 3.89) in a 4:05 p.m. game. Saturday – Scott Kazmir (5-1, 2.28) vs. Josh Tomlin (2-0, 2.13), 4:05 p.m. Sunday – Jesse Chavez (3-1, 2.44) vs. Justin Masterson (2-2, 4.31), 10:05 a.m.