OAKLAND –- Sonny Gray won trash-talking rights over good buddy Scott Kazmir.
The A’s ace delivered seven scoreless innings and outdueled his former teammate in Oakland’s 4-0 victory over the Astros on Tuesday night.
It was Kazmir’s first time facing the A’s since they dealt him to Houston on July 23 for two minor leaguers. That was an emotional day in the A’s clubhouse, as Kazmir was a beloved teammate and was scheduled to take the mound the very day he was dealt.
He served as a mentor of sorts to Gray during his two years in an Oakland uniform, and the two were trading good-natured swipes via text leading up to Tuesday’s matchup. Gray (13-7) delivered seven scoreless innings and scattered five hits, striking out four and walking two. It was a bounce-back performance after the right-hander gave up a career high-tying six runs in a loss to the Angels on Wednesday.
Kazmir (7-10) went six innings and was victimized by two home runs –- a solo shot from A’s leadoff man Billy Burns and a three-run shot from Mark Canha. That was all the offense required for the A’s as they beat the American League West leaders for the second day in a row, on the heels of a five-game losing streak.
Starting pitching report
Gray lowered his ERA to an AL-best 2.28, overtaking Dallas Keuchel for the league lead as the Astros ace watched from the opposing dugout.
Gray’s biggest jam came in the second, when he loaded the bases with one out. But he got Hank Conger swinging on a nasty curve and got Jake Marisnick to pop out to escape that inning.
What more is there to say about rookie Ryan Dull? He finished the night with two scoreless innigns, retiring all six batters that he faced. He’s allowed just one base runner over his first five career outings.
At the plate
In 10 starts at the Coliseum this season as an Athletic, Kazmir did not allow a single homer and posted a 1.36 ERA. The A’s took him deep twice Tuesday, and the lefty probably wasn’t expecting Burns to muscle up on him.
Burns fouled off four consecutive pitches to begin his third-inning at-bat, then drilled a fastball that went over the center field wall and ricocheted off the camera well. The rookie may be known best for his blazing speed, but he’s showing some surprising pop too. He’s now hit four homers this season after totaling just three over five minor league seasons.
[STIGLICH: Zito made his mark this year, just not with A's]
Canha continued swinging a hot bat, hitting a laser deep over the left field wall for a three-run shot in the fifth. It was Canha’s sixth homer in his last 20 games.
In the field
The A’s turned in an errorless effort behind their two pitchers.
A marquee pitching matchup could only bring out a crowd of 11,364 -- the smallest at the Coliseum this season.
Aaron Brooks (1-1, 6.91) and Collin McHugh (15-7, 3.75) take the mound in Wednesday’s 7:05 p.m. series finale.