The A’s made just enough mistakes to open the door to defeat Friday night, and inevitably they walked right through it.
The Reds struck for two runs off Sonny Gray in the bottom of the seventh to make the difference in Oakland’s 2-1 loss at the Great American Ball Park, which extended the A’s losing streak to a season-high six games.
It was quite an encouraging nigh for Gray through most of the night. He held Cincinnati hitless through 5 1/3 innings and looked in complete command in his second start back from the disabled list. But the A’s offense simply could not take advantage of nine hits and numerous base runners. And the way this season has gone, you just knew that would eventually come back to bite them.
Gray took a 1-0 lead to the hill in the seventh. He gave up Brandon Phillips’ one-out single, then allowed him to second on a wild pitch. Adam Duvall’s two-out double down the left field line scored Phillips to tie it. After Eugenio Suarez’s infield single moved Duvall to third, Gray uncorked another wild pitch that brought home the go-ahead run.
Just like that, a one-run lead became a one-run deficit for the A’s.
Gray wound up with a strong final line — 7 2/3 innings, five hits, 2 runs, one walk and four strikeouts. But with the A’s unable to get more going with the bats, the right-hander had very little margin for error and couldn’t make a slim lead stand.
Starting pitching report
Overall, it was an encouraging night for Gray (3-6). The best sign for the pitcher is the way he’s managed his pitch count by pitching to contact in his first two starts back from the disabled list. That allowed him to pitch a season-high 7 2/3 innings Friday. Still, it’s fair to wonder if Gray began to tire in the seventh, when his command wavered and he threw both of his wild pitches, which ultimately proved costly.
Sean Doolittle came on in relief with two outs in the eighth and retired Joey Votto on a fly ball.
At the plate
Stephen Vogt got the A’s on the board in the third with his fifth homer of the season, a shot to right off Reds starter Anthony DeScalfani (1-0), who earned the victory in his first major league outing of the season.
The A’s had opportunities to do more, but they stranded nine runners and went 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position.
The most dysfunctional sequence came in the top of the sixth. With Khris Davis on second with no outs, Yonder Alonso ripped a liner off the right field wall. Not only did Davis not score from second, Alonso was thrown out trying to stretch a single into a double — he had wisely stayed at first on an earlier similar hit in the second. Then with one out, Davis went for home on Marcus Semien’s chopper right to third baseman Eugenio Suarez and he was thrown out by about 15 feet. The A’s wouldn’t add to their lead and it came back to haunt them.
In the field
Neither team committed an error.
Saturday’s 1:10 p.m. game sets up as an intriguing pitching matchup. Right-hander Daniel Mengden (0-0, 0.00) will make his big league debut for the A’s, and former Athletic Dan Straily (3-2, 3.34) will try to continue what’s been a solid season so far for him.