OAKLAND -- A Memorial Day Matinee played to the weary A's strengths Monday, less than 24 hours after they flew back from Houston to play host to the Giants in a Bay Bridge Series opener.
Lights out pitching and opportunistic hitting paved the way for the A's, who cruised to a 4-1 defeat of the Giants and won their fourth straight game, their ninth victory in their last 10 outings. Oakland was the second-to-last team to play an interleague game, behind Boston.
And after getting the jump on the Giants, who won last year's season series for only the third time in 16 years of interleague play, the A's can't wait for the next one. Especially with more rest time between games.
Starting pitching report
Dan Straily kept the Giants hitters off balance for most of the afternoon, giving up just one run on four hits with a walk and a strikeout. The right-hander did not give up his second hit until the fifth inning and was not scored upon until the sixth, when a leadoff walk came around to score in the form of Gregor Blanco. In fact, before Blanco came home, Straily had a scoreless streak of 12 innings after allowing just two hits in seven innings last week at Texas. Straily, who entered the game allowing a .196 batting average the first time through the lineup, .213 the second time and .320 the third, threw 78 pitches, 52 for strikes.
Sean Doolittle faced six batters and retired all six, striking out two. The left-hander has retired 16 of the last 17 hitters he's faced. Closer Grant Balfour earned his 11th save in 11 opportunities this season and has converted 29 straight dating to last year, striking out Brandon Belt looking with Buster Posey at second base to end the game.
At the plate
Josh Donaldson got the A's first hit of the day, and he did it with a grown-man swing, taking Madison Bumgarner's 2-and-0, 89-mph offering over the fence in right-center for a two-run home run in the fourth inning to score Yoenis Cespedes, who had walked to lead off the inning. It was Donaldson's eighth homer and he now has an A's-leading 33 RBI. Cespedes also drove in two runs with a two-out double off the wall in right-center in the seventh inning, off reliever George Kontos.
In the field
Cespedes seemed to shake himself up with a dive/cartwheel/somersault for Brandon Crawford's fifth-inning bleeder into shallow left. Cespedes, though, stayed in the game after shaking himself out and came through later at the plate, as described above. Oh, and the ball fell in for a single.
The A's announced a crowd of 36,067, the fourth home sellout of the season. And while there was a smattering of orange and black throughout, there were more green and gold-clad fans in attendance. As it should be for a game in the East Bay.
Jarrod Parker (2-6, 5.76 ERA) has leveled out a bit after an 0-4 start with an ERA of 8.10, going 2-2 and authoring a 4.02 ERA in his last five outings, in which opponents are batting just .226. Against the Giants, though, the right-hander is 0-1 with a 7.88 ERA in two career outings, both coming last year. The Giants counter with left-hander Michael Kickham, who will be making his major league debut in place of Ryan Vogelsong, who suffered a broken right hand last week when the ball hit it on a swing. Kickham is 3-4 with a 4.33 ERA in 10 starts for Triple-A Fresno.