ANAHEIM — Given another crack at Tim Lincecum, the A’s made life a little rougher on him this time.
Five days after beating Oakland in his 2016 major league debut, the former Giant lasted just three innings Thursday as the A’s made their early offense stand in a 5-4 victory in the opener of a four-game series.
Marcus Semien hit a three-run homer to highlight a four-run second off Lincecum, but they inflicted the rest of their damage in more subtle fashion. Opposite-field singles, grounders that found holes, bloopers that fell — including one dropped by Angels third baseman Yunel Escobar for an error.
No doubt that good fortune was shining on the A’s in some at-bats, but their approach against Lincecum clearly seemed better than it did Saturday, when he held them to two runs over six innings at the Coliseum. Manager Bob Melvin came away from that game saying he thought the A’s bailed out Lincecum (1-1) at times with their impatience at the plate.
It was a better showing Thursday, as the A’s beat the Angels for just the second time in seven games this season.
Kendall Graveman (3-6) took advantage of the early lead, working 6 2/3 innings of two-run ball and notching the first victory by an A’s starter since Sean Manaea beat the Twins on June 1. That 17-game streak without a victory by a starting pitcher wound up one short of the Oakland streak, an 18-game streak in 1997.
Khris Davis added a solo homer off Deolis Guerra in the fifth, a towering shot that kept carrying until it cleared the wall in left-center for Davis’ team-leading 17th home run of the season.
Starting pitching report
Graveman has been in sharp form over his past two starts, keeping the ball down in the zone and cutting down on the walks that had been contributing to big innings. Surely it helped to be handed an early 4-0 lead. The right-hander entered the night with the fifth-lowest run support in the AL (3.16 per game) among pitchers with at least 60 innings. He’s now 8-1 in 15 career starts with three runs of support or more, 1-14 in 20 starts with two or less.
He didn’t issue a single free pass Thursday, and he’s walked just four total over his past four starts. Before that, Graveman had walked 14 over his previous five outings. Twelve of his 20 outs Thursday came on ground balls, including two double plays. A’s starters entered the night 0-9 with a 5.29 ERA over the previous 17 games. After Thursday's win, Melvin announced that left-hander Dillon Overton would be called up from Triple-A Nashville to start Saturday in his major league debut. Overton is ranked the A's No. 8 prospect by Baseball America.
Melvin operated his late-inning relief corps in reverse again, as he’s done on occasion. He brought in Ryan Madson to face the heart of the Angels’ order in the eighth, and Madson responded with a 1-2-3 inning, including strikeouts of Mike Trout and C.J. Cron. Sean Doolittle came on for the ninth. He gave up Jett Bandy’s two-run homer to close the lead to 5-4. Then with two outs, home plate ump Paul Emmel suffered a gash in his head when Jefry Marte’s bat flew out of his hands and struck Emmel’s mask. Emmel was helped off the field, holding a towel to his head, and the game was delayed several minutes. Third base ump Quinn Wolcott took over behind the plate and Doolittle needed just one pitch after the delay to get Marte to pop out to end it. It was Doolittle’s fourth save.
Give an assist to lefty Marc Rzepczynski, who relieved Graveman with a man on first in the seventh. After Andrelton Simmons stole second, Rzepczynski retired Kole Calhoun on a grounder to keep it a 5-2 game at the time.
At the plate
Semien had mentioned before the game that he thought he and his teammates might benefit from having just faced Lincecum five days earlier. He also said he felt he tracked Lincecum’s off-speed stuff pretty well in that first encounter. On a 1-1 pitch in the second, he drilled an off-speed pitch low in the zone for a three-run homer to left to give him his 13th homer.
In the field
Danny Valencia made an excellent bare-hand play and throw to first to highlight the A’s defensive effort. Graveman made a nifty stop to begin a 1-6-3 double play.
A crowd of 36,412 was on hand.
Can Eric Surkamp (0-5, 7.20) make it two solid starts in a row? He was pushed up in the rotation to start Friday’s 7:05 p.m. game, but he’ll be on his regular four days’ rest. He’ll be opposed by Jered Weaver (6-6, 5.10), who threw a shutout against the A’s at the Coliseum on Sunday.