video thumbnail

OAK@BAL: Crisp ties the game at 1 with a solo homer

BALTIMORE -- Sonny Gray rarely loses, which is why his manager isn't concerned when he does.

"I think we hold him to such a high standard that we expect him to go out there and throw a shutout almost every time," said Bob Melvin.

On Saturday, Gray surely didn't look himself, and his A's teammates appeared out of sort, too, in a 6-3 loss to the Orioles at Camden Yards.

It was just the second loss of the season in 13 starts for the right-hander and first since April 23. It doubled as his first road loss.

Oakland's ace issued a season-high-tying four walks in a season-low 5 1/3 innings, along the way allowing a season-high five runs on just four hits.

Gray has allowed 12 earned runs in his last 18 innings. He gave up just 17 in his first 68 innings.

"I felt really good early in the game," Gray said, "And four or five hitters there, the game just kind of blew up on me. I started throwing balls, and I don't know why. I got behind a lot of hitters that inning. I basically just wasn't throwing enough quality strikes."

Gray allowed a first-inning homer to Adam Jones and was touched for three more runs in the fifth, his night ending following a one-out walk to J.J. Hardy in the sixth.

Righty Jim Johnson, pitching in Baltimore and facing his former team for the first time since being traded, proceeded to allow a two-run homer to David Lough, giving the Orioles a 6-1 lead.

"Sonny got out of his mechanics a little bit tonight and was falling real bad to the first-base side, just kind of falling off his pitches," said catcher Stephen Vogt. "He's aware of where it went wrong, and I think he'll make the adjustment and be right back on it five days from now.

"The thing is, when it goes bad for Sonny, it's still pretty good. He just lost his command for a little while there in the middle innings, and they got him, and we weren't able to recover offensively. He's a fighter and a perfectionist, so he's going to want to be that much better next time."

Gray's uncharacteristic outing coincided with a dreary offensive day for Oakland's lineup, which managed just one run in the first seven innings in advance of Kyle Blanks' pinch-hit, two-run single off righty Darren O'Day in the eighth.

But against Kevin Gausman, making just the second start of the season and seventh of his career, the A's only got a third-inning homer from Coco Crisp, collecting just three other hits in seven innings off the righty.

Crisp finished a triple shy of the cycle. Elsewhere, though, Josh Donaldson suffered the first four-strikeout game of his career, and Brandon Moss struck out twice in three hitless at-bats.

Twice the A's boarded two runners with no outs, both times coming up empty.

"You always look at those, but their guy pitched pretty well," said Melvin. "Hit 99 and started mixing up, pitching a little differently. His two-seamer is significantly different from his four-seamer in velocity and movement, and then he started throwing his slider for strikes and putting away his splitter, so you have to give him some credit."

"He was keeping us off-balance, keeping his fastball down in the zone and throwing that good split-finger off of it," added Vogt. "He got a lot of just-misses by our hitters tonight and also got us to chase, myself included."

The A's went 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position behind Gray.

"You're so used to him just putting up zeroes all the time," said Melvin. "He just got nicked up on a couple bad pitches."

Lefty Jeff Francis, pitching for just the second time since being claimed off waivers by the A's, allowed just one hit and struck out three in two innings of relief. Comments