A’s, Gray come up big when it counts

O.CO COLISEUM — Oakland starter Sonny Gray was dominant in a huge Friday night win over the Los Angeles Angels.

Gray (W, 8-1/3 IP, 3 ER, 5 K, 6 H) held down a lead that came in the sixth inning on a triple from outfielder Sam Fuld, carrying Oakland to a 5-3 victory and his 13th win of the year.

With the win, the A’s are only one game out of the division lead behind the Angels.

Entering the fifth inning, the only scoring had come from home runs. One each from Los Angeles’ Mike Trout and Josh Hamilton, another from Oakland’s Coco Crisp.

Photos by Scot Tucker/SFBay

An error by Angels shortstop Erick Aybar on a Josh Donaldson would-be groundout sent Crisp across the plate to tie the game at 2-2, but that would be it for the inning.

Fuld, one of the fastest members of the Oakland roster, tripled to right center in the sixth. The ball caromed off the wall, helping infielder Alberto Callaspo make it home safely for a 3-2 lead.

Infielder Andy Parrino, on the very next at bat, popped the ball way up in shallow left field, and Fuld tagged up for the A’s fourth and run of the game.

A’s closer Sean Doolittle said:

“That was a huge game for us. Coco, setting the tone right off the bat. It seemed like we had guys on base every inning and we were putting pressure on them. We were able to put a few runs across, Fuld had a huge hit. Parrino coming through with a sacrifice fly. (Stephen) Vogt for insurance late in the game. And Sonny did what he always does, he stayed poised and he pitched one of his best ballgames of the year for sure.”

The runs from Parrino and Fuld came off of Jason Grilli, who was traded to Los Angeles earlier in the year from the Pittsburgh Pirates. Grilli was shaky in his role as the Pirates’ closer, and has yet to maintain his All-Star form.

Grilli had put together nine appearances without an earned run, but the A’s snapped the stretch like a Slim Jim outside a Chevron.

Catcher Stephen Vogt hit his 10th home run of the season while inch hitting for first baseman Nate Frieman, and that was all Oakland, and Gray, needed.

Gray exited for the ninth inning, retiring one batter before A’s manager Bob Melvin pulled him for Doolittle.

The Angels wouldn’t go down easy, though. An inherited runner scored after Angels’ third baseman David Freese singled. Doolittle allowed a walk to pinch hitter Colin Cowgill, loading the bases.

Doolittle retired the final batter, pinch hitter Chris Iannetta on strikes, picking up his 19th save of the season.

Doolittle, on allowing runners late in the game and the Angels in general, said:

“They battled. And I think that right there is an example of why they’ve been so successful lately. Winning a lot of close games. Coming from behind in a lot of games to get the win. They laid off some tough pitches … The balls that Aybar and Freese hit, I thought I put in good spots. they didn’t try and do too much with it, they did a good job of staying short. And they got the good part of the bat on it. They’re not all going to be pretty, but that was a really important win to nail down”

The Angels trailed Oakland by 1-1/2 games at the All-Star break and chipped their way into leading the American League and all of baseball.

Crisp is entering the form Oakland needs him at to take the lead back, though Melvin doesn’t want to put too much on his shoulders:

“Trout hits a home run and then Coco answers. And that was big. … To turn it around, and Coco hitting the home run. That was huge. That’s like, ‘alright, we’re fine.’ Then (Crisp) has another double. It all kind of starts with him. And again, I can’t put too much pressure on him, like he has to play well for us to win. That’s not the case. But when we play our best, he’s playing.”

The Angels now lead the division by one game, and the A’s will have Saturday and Sunday to take the lead back.

Notes

The Oakland Athletics now lead the season series against Los Angeles 7-3, and are 4-0 at home against the Angels. … Friday night was Sonny Gray’s longest outing since tossing a complete game April 28 at Texas. … Coco Crisp hit his 15th career first-inning leadoff home run, his 13th with the A’s. He is 30 behind Rickey Henderson’s 43 for the team lead. … Mike Trout hit his 28th home run of the season in the first inning. 20 of Trout’s 28 home runs this season have given the Angels the lead.


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