OAKLAND — The A’s finally broke through offensively Tuesday, and they found an opponent that was all too willing to help their cause.
The Milwaukee Brewers didn’t play their sharpest game defensively, aiding the A’s 5-3 victory in the opener of a two-game series at the Coliseum.
Oakland scored as many runs Tuesday as it had in its previous four games combined. Marcus Semien had three hits and drove in three runs as the A’s won for just the fifth time in 17 games in June.
Semien, who entered the night in a 0-for-15 rut, came up clutch twice with two outs, singling in the tying run in the sixth and tripling in two more runs during a go-ahead rally in the seventh. But Milwaukee chipped in with an error from shortstop Jonathan Villar that helped the seventh-inning rally. Semien’s triple was a looper to left-center that should have only scored one, but the ball somehow got by both Ryan Braun and Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Semien wound up with a two-run triple.
Earlier that inning, Nieuwenhuis had Stephen Vogt’s deep drive to right-center pop out of his glove for a triple, though it was a difficult play. The Brewers stunted one of their own rallies in the seventh when Martin Maldonado was doubled off second on a baserunning error.
Regardless, the A’s are looking to pocket some victories any way they can, and Semien’s night at the plate, combined with some nice bullpen work in relief of Sonny Gray helped the A’s win just their third game out of eight on this nine-game homestand.
Starting pitching report:
It didn’t get him a victory, but Gray’s solid outing was nonetheless a step in the right direction for the A’s ace. He went six innings and gave up two runs on seven hits, walked one and struck out seven, which tied his season high. He found particular success with a curve that had Brewers hitters lunging for all night. It was a 2-2 game when he left at 100 pitches following the sixth, so Gray is still looking for his first victory since April 22, a span of eight starts.
Ryan Dull continues to shine, perhaps emerging as the A’s top All-Star candidate. He entered in the eighth in place of John Axford, with a runner on second, no outs and Oakland ahead 5-3. Dull retired three straight batters and stranded the runner at third, making him now 30-for-30 in stranding inherited runners in 2016. Ryan Madson nailed down the save.
At the plate:
When Vogt’s slow roller to short scored Max Muncy in the fifth, it snapped a 19-inning scoreless streak for the A’s. Even more indicative of their recent offensive struggles, that rally snapped a 13-inning streak in which Oakland hadn’t advanced a runner as far as third base.
In the sixth, a passed ball moved Khris Davis into scoring position, and Marcus Semien eventually drove him in with a two-out single to right that tied it 2-2. Semien would come through again in the seventh with his two-run triple as the A’s extended their lead to 5-2, which almost felt lopsided considering the A’s recent struggles.
In the field:
One of Gray’s runs was unearned due to his own throwing error on a pickoff to first in the sixth. That helped Milwaukee command a 2-1 lead at the time.
The announced turnout was 14,810.
Random factoid for the day — Daniel Mengden (0-2, 2.25) is making his third career start Wednesday, and all will be in afternoon games. He’ll oppose Junior Guerra (3-1, 3.81) in a 12:35 p.m. matchup that will close this nine-game homestand.