OAKLAND – The A’s bookended their scoring on Saturday the easy way.
Josh Reddick ripped a three-run homer in the first for an early lead, then Stephen Vogt provided some cushion in the seventh with a solo shot to highlight a 5-3 A’s victory over Kansas City that snapped a four-game losing streak.
For a team that’s struggled mightily to cash in on scoring chances, getting four runs on two swings of the bat was a welcome strategy. The A’s evened this three-game series with Sunday’s finale awaiting, and they’ll try to salvage some momentum after dropping the first four of this six-game homestand.
Sonny Gray held the Royals to two runs over six innings to ring up his second victory of 2016, and John Axford, Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson closed things out.
The Royals got to Gray for a run in the first, but the A’s answered right back against right-hander Chris Young (0-3). Billy Burns led off with a single, Marcus Semien drew a walk and Reddick drilled an 0-1 fastball over the wall in right for a three-run homer. The A’s wouldn’t relinquish the lead from there.
Starting pitching report
The Royals made Gray work to close out a couple innings after there were two outs, and that ran his pitch count up. Given how much work the bullpen has logged lately, it was no surprise that A’s manager Bob Melvin leaned on his ace for 114 pitches. Gray (2-1) made it through six innings, allowing two runs (one earned) on seven hits and one walk. He struck out six.
John Axford came on in the seventh and pitched 1 2/3 innings. With lefty Alex Gordon hitting and a runner aboard in the eighth with two outs, Melvin called on Sean Doolittle, who has had a rough go with the long ball lately. But Doolittle retired Gordon on a fly out and former Royal Ryan Madson closed it out in the ninth for his third save. Things got a bit dicey when the first two hitters reached via a walk and an error from Jed Lowrie, but Madson coaxed a 4-6-3 double play from Salvador Perez. Alcides Escobar drove home a run with a single, but that double play nipped the rally in the bud.
At the plate
The A’s collected 10 hits and finally executed some with runners on base. Besides the two homers, Marcus Semien delivered a sacrifice fly with the bases loaded in the second for a 4-1 A’s lead.
In the field
Lowrie was charged with two errors – the ball in the ninth was a tough scoring call – but the several balls hit to the right side on the afternoon underscored his lack of range. He did make a nice play on Perez’s sharp one-hopper that turned into the crucial double play in the ninth. Josh Phegley, starting behind the plate, allowed two passed balls. And in the first, he collided with third baseman Danny Valencia while making a catch on a foul pop, as it appeared neither player called the other off.
Not the A’s sharpest effort defensively.
The announced crowd was 25,564, the A’s largest at home since Opening Night.
The A’s will send Chris Bassitt (0-0, 2.92) to the mound Sunday to close out this six-game homestand. He’ll oppose Kris Medlen (1-0, 3.60). Game time is 1:05 p.m.