Gray wins for A’s, helps eliminate Giants from wild card
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Now, it’s staff ace Sonny Gray who might be hurt for the Oakland Athletics.
Gray pitched the A’s past the San Francisco Giants 5-4 on Friday night, yet did so with his left hip still bothering him, raising question as to whether he will even take the mound again with his team already out of the playoffs.
Gray (14-7) struck out seven in six innings to bounce back from two rough starts in which he had no-decisions, but this might be it for him given he has been dealing with lingering tightness in his left hip for two starts now.
“All week it’s been a little sore. Nothing crazy,” he said. “Probably in like the fifth inning I threw a pitch and I slipped a little bit. Just jarred it up and started being a little sore again.”
San Francisco was eliminated from wild-card contention with its third straight defeat, sending the Chicago Cubs into the postseason for the first time since 2008.
Billy Burns hit a two-run homer and Billy Butler added a solo shot as the A’s snapped a five-game losing streak to start a Bay Bridge Series in late September with little on the line.
Marlon Byrd got the Giants back within a run on a two-out RBI single in the eighth against Sean Doolittle, who escaped further damage when catcher Stephen Vogt caught Mac Williamson’s foul popup with the bases loaded.
Doolittle finished with a perfect ninth for his second save.
Gray gave up five hits. The right-hander beat the Giants 6-1 on July 8, 2014, in his only other appearance against them.
“He had a little bit of a hip thing that was bothering him, so I didn’t want to mess with that,” manager Bob Melvin said. “He’s had a lot of innings this year. He felt it once or twice in the game, and after that inning he felt it again and I didn’t want to mess with that. We’ll see after that.”
The Giants trail the NL West-leading Dodgers by eight games with nine to go, and Los Angeles visits visit AT&T Park for four games next week.
“You don’t like losing games like this,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “The one-run games are killing us right now. It’s caught up to us these one-run games.”
Bochy’s team dropped to 79-74, losing its 15th in the last 16 one-run games and a sixth in a row at the Oakland Coliseum.
Matt Duffy and Jarrett Parker homered for the Giants. Mike Leake (10-10), acquired earlier this season to help for the stretch run, took the loss.
“It’s not exactly what I had in mind coming to them,” Leake said of his tough go losing for the fourth time in five starts.
Josh Reddick provided an insurance run with an RBI single in the seventh that made it 5-3.
Parker’s leadoff homer in the seventh into the second deck in center field was one of the deepest home runs in recent memory at the Coliseum. It was the first career homer surrendered by A’s reliever Ryan Dull, who began with 11 scoreless innings.
Leake allowed four runs on six hits in six innings.
Giants: 1B Brandon Belt, sidelined by a concussion for the second straight September, left Pittsburgh, where he was examined by renowned specialist Dr. Micky Collins at the University of Pittsburgh. ... RF Hunter Pence, out since Aug. 18 with a strained left oblique, should be able to begin his offseason routine nearly on time. “Hopefully in a month Hunter’s going to be pain-free and resuming his workouts,” Bochy said.
Athletics: Vogt returned to catch for the first time since a terrifying groin injury Sept. 6 against Seattle. He was likely to start behind the plate again Saturday if he felt fine afterward. Vogt received his Jim “Catfish” Hunter award before the game, becoming the first A’s player to win in consecutive years for his spirit, example and demeanor on and off the field exemplifying the late Hall of Famer.
San Francisco’s Tim Hudson (8-8) takes on Barry Zito (0-0) in what could be the final start for both pitchers who began their careers with Oakland as part of the vaunted “Big Three” that also included Mark Mulder.
“We had some of our best years as a professional here in Oakland,” said the 40-year-old Hudson, who will retire — with Zito expected to join him. “It’s something that when I heard it was going to happen it really made me smile, happy for me personally and Barry as well. I couldn’t have thought of a better way to go out. ... It’s going to be a nice little throwback moment.”