OAKLAND –- The A’s have spent most of this season being way too hospitable to visiting teams.
Not the case over the past two days, as they finished off a two-game sweep of the Los Angeles Dodgers with Wednesday’s 5-2 victory. It was quite the bounce-back performance for a team that was coming off an 0-7 road trip and seemed to have hit a low point in the season.
The A’s hung tough against reigning Cy Young winner Clayton Kershaw on Tuesday before pulling out an extra-inning victory. On Wednesday, they rode Jesse Chavez’s excellent outing to victory, to the disappointment of a large and vocal contingent of blue-shirted Dodgers fans.
The A’s are just 28-34 at home, a big factor in their season-long residency in the AL West cellar. But they’ve now won their last five at the Coliseum dating back to their last homestand.
Chavez (7-12) has endured a bumpy ride in the second half, posting a 5.48 ERA over his previous nine starts entering Wednesday. But he put it all together over eight innings of two-hit ball, striking out six. His only mistake was a two-run homer off the bat of Jimmy Rollins in the third that gave Los Angeles a 2-1 lead. The A’s took the lead back with two in the sixth, spearheaded by Billy Burns’ run-scoring double, then padded that cushion with two more in the eighth.
Starting pitching report
The book on Chavez is that he runs out of gas in the second half of the season. But he was in top form Wednesday, throwing a career-high 116 pitches and showing live stuff into the late innings. He finished his day by striking out Rollins on a curve to strand the tying run at second in the eighth, pumping his fist and yelling emphatically as he left the mound.
It was Pomeranz who got the call in the ninth, notching his second save of the season. Melvin had said the closer spot was a fluid situation after Edward Mujica struggled recently.
At the plate
Burns was a spark plug all day, going 3-for-4 with three runs. He drove in the tying run in the sixth with a double, then scored the go-ahead run on Danny Valencia’s double-play grounder. Stephen Vogt had a sacrifice fly in the eighth and newly promoted Jake Smolinski doubled in another run to make it 5-2.
In the field
Burns added the cherry on top of the sundae by making a diving catch in center to lead off the top of the ninth.
A crowd of 26,122 was on hand.
The A’s take Thursday off and then welcome the Tampa Bay Rays for a three-game series over the weekend. Friday – Chris Bassitt (1-4, 2.60) vs. Drew Smyly (0-2, 4.35), 7:05 p.m. Saturday – Sonny Gray (12-5, 2.04) vs. Erasmo Ramirez (10-4, 3.57), 6:05 p.m. Sunday – Kendall Graveman (6-9, 4.27) vs. Jake Odorizzi (6-6, 3.02), 1:05 p.m. The whole series will air on CSN California.