Freiman knocks in four on a ‘Sonny’ Oakland day

OAKLAND COLISEUM — Sonny Gray tossed eight shutout innings and Nate Freiman jolted the A’s offense as Oakland defeated the Houston Astros 5-0 on Thursday to avoid the sweep.

Freiman led the way for the Athletics, going 4-for-4 with four RBIs in the win.

The A’s wasted no time jumping all over Houston left-hander Erik Bedard. Chris Young singled to lead off the game for Oakland and came around to score on an RBI double by Jed Lowrie.

After Josh Donaldson walked, Freiman doubled home both runners, giving the Green and Gold an early 3-0 lead from which they never looked back.

Freiman extended the A’s lead in the third inning with his third home run of the season, a two-run shot to make it 5-0. All three of Freiman’s home runs this season and 10 of his 22 RBIs have come against Houston.

He credits Athletics hitting coach Chili Davis with helping him find his stroke today before the game:

A’s first baseman Nate Freiman

Video: CSN California

“I did a lot of work in the cage this morning with Chili. … I made a couple of little adjustments that allowed me to take a couple better swings today. I was on time and was able to take a couple more aggressive swings.”

All five of the A’s runs came against Bedard (3-9, 4.49 ERA), who has struggled this season and lasted just 4-2/3 innings on Thursday. He threw 97 pitches – only 60 for strikes – allowed seven hits, walked four, and struck out four.

Lucas Harrell pitched the remainder of the game for Houston, tossing 3-1/3 innings, giving up just two hits, and saving the Astros bullpen.

On the other side of the rubber, Gray was brilliant in his second career start for Oakland.

After pitching six innings and allowing just two runs in his debut on August 10th in Toronto – and being charged with the tough-luck loss in that game – Gray  (1-1, 1.00, ERA) gave an even better performance in his home debut.

He held the Astros to just four hits on a career-high 118 pitches walking only one while striking out nine. Gray said that catcher Derek Norris was a big help behind the plate:

A’s pitcher Sonny Gray

Video: CSN California

“After the second, third inning Dino (Derek Norris) was putting signs down and I was shaking my head yes and throwing it. We were really on the same page, especially from the third inning on.”

With the win, the A’s remain just 1-1/2 games behind the Texas Rangers for first place in the American League West. With a tight pennant race ahead for the rest of the season, manager Bob Melvin is excited about the impact that Gray could have on this team:

A’s Manager Bob Melvin

Video: CSN California

“I don’t really look at it as far as changing the dynamic, it just means we have another quality guy … I think the organization did a smart thing in that they brought him up and pitched him out of the bullpen a couple of times to get his feet wet, and then brought him up to start. And he’s really been great.”

Notes

Gray has struck out 20 batters in 18 innings over his first four appearances (two in relief). … Josh Donaldson has reached base safely in a career-high 18 straight games and is 16 for 64 (.250) in that span. … Josh Reddick is 10 for 51 (.196) over his last 15 games but five of the hits are home runs.


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