OAKLAND -– The flurry of run support he received may have caught Jesse Chavez off guard Wednesday, but he sure knew what to do with it.
The right-hander buzzed through San Diego’s lineup for a career-high 11 strikeouts in the A’s 16-2 thrashing of the Padres at the Coliseum. They’ve won four in a row, tying their season high, and they’ve outscored San Diego 31-8 in the past three days.
Chavez has been the A’s second-best starter behind Sonny Gray since he joined the rotation April 23, and definitely the unluckiest. He entered Wednesday with the Majors’ worst run support at 1.94 per game over his first nine starts.
[STIGLICH: A's stress acceptance, inclusion on Pride Night]
That’s the major reason he came in with a 2-6 record despite a 2.64 ERA that he shaved down to 2.52 against San Diego. But the A’s jumped on right-hander Odrisamer Despaigne (3-5) for four runs in the first, highlighted by Billy Butler’s three-run homer. They continued to pour it on and finished with a season high in both runs and hits (20).
Pick your box-score standout … Butler was 4-for-5 with three RBI. Ben Zobrist scored three runs, drove in three and finished a homer shy of the cycle. Billy Burns was 3-for-4 with three runs and Sam Fuld, Brett Lawrie and Stephen Vogt drove in a pair.
Starting pitching report
Chavez allowed just three hits and one walk. The run came on his first pitch of the sixth, when Alexi Amarista homered to make it 5-1. Chavez has now gone six innings or deeper in nine of his 11 starts since shifting over from relief duty.
Fernando Abad gave up Will Middlebrooks’ homer in the eighth, but the bullpen story in this game came from the Padres’ side. With the game getting absolutely out of hand during the A’s seven-run eighth, Padres interim manager Pat Murphy called on Amarista, his shortstop, to finish the inning. He got Burns to fly out.
At the plate
Zobrist has really given the A’s a spark in the cleanup spot. He’s hit fourth in six of the past seven games, and in those six contests, he’s 10-for-23. Butler’s three-run shot was a welcome sight for manager Bob Melvin. He cleared the fences for the first time since May 16.
In the field
Channeling his inner Billy Burns, Zobrist made a leaping catch at the wall in left field to rob Derek Norris of extra bases in the second. It was second impressive outfield play in the past three days. He’s still not blazing around the bases, but that left knee is sure improving based on his recent level of play.
A spirited crowd of 20,625 showed up for the A’s first ever Pride Night.
Kendall Graveman (3-3, 4.22) has pitched seven or more innings and allowed one or fewer runs in each of his past two starts, yet has a loss and no-decision to show for it. He’ll oppose Ian Kennedy (3-5, 5.84) in Thursday’s 12:35 p.m. matinee.