EditorsNote: new headline
Gray guides A’s past Red Sox
OAKLAND, Calif. — Sonny Gray produced a blast from the past, and the Oakland A’s right-hander was rewarded with his first victory in nearly 10 months on Thursday night at the Oakland Coliseum.
Gray allowed three runs on four hits over six innings in an 8-3 victory against the Boston Red Sox. He struck out a season-high eight and walked two in his 100th career major league start.
The victory was the first for Gray (1-1) since July 26, 2016. He beat Boston for the first time in four career starts, giving him at least one win against every American League team except Oakland.
“I wasn’t aware of how long, but as a pitcher you want to win games,” Gray said of his victory drought. “Everything else will come as is, but when you go out there, you want to start a game that the team wins, and I think that’s the most important thing as a pitcher, is to win. It’s nice to get a win, for sure, and hopefully I can put together some good starts from here and get some more.”
Gray had two stints on the disabled list last year when he went 5-11 with a 5.69 ERA, and he started this season on the DL with a strained right shoulder. On Thursday, he pitched more like the ace who went 33-20 over his first three seasons with Oakland.
“It’s huge,” A’s catcher Stephen Vogt said. “He’s our anchor, our ace. To see him throw like that tonight, that’s him. When he’s going and doing what he does best, we feel good every time he takes the mound.”
The A’s gave Gray plenty of offensive support. Jed Lowrie hit a two-run homer and added Khris Davis a solo blast in the first inning. Chad Pinder belted a two-run shot in the fourth for the A’s, who were coming off a 1-5 road trip. Trevor Plouffe went 3-for-4 with two doubles, an RBI and two runs.
Mitch Moreland hit a solo home run in the fourth inning for Boston, which was coming off a 5-4, 13-inning victory Wednesday night at St. Louis. Dustin Pedroia went 2-for-4 and scored a run.
Red Sox right-hander Hector Velazquez (0-1) allowed six runs on nine hits, including three home runs, over five innings in his major league debut. Velazquez, a 28-year-old whose contract was purchased by Boston from the Mexican League on Feb. 18, was called up from Triple-A on Thursday. He was 2-1 with a 1.55 ERA in five starts for Pawtucket.
“I felt good,” Velazquez said. “Out of the gate I felt a little bit emotional with it being my first big league game, so my adrenaline was up there and getting under control was a little hard. So unfortunately I had a bad inning, but I felt good.”
The A’s went 1-5 against Boston last season and were outscored 67-20.
Oakland led 6-3 after four innings Thursday and added two runs in the sixth.
“The middle innings, we’re still very much in the game,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said. “The two runs in the sixth, that was kind of a big separation where they were able to create a little more distance.
“On a late night coming in here, you have probably a couple of pushes from an offensive standpoint where you need some leadership from the mound, but that wasn’t the case tonight.”
The Red Sox took a 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning off Gray. Mookie Betts lined a leadoff single, moved to third on Pedroia’s infield single and scored on Hanley Ramirez’s single to left with one out. Gray walked Moreland, loading the bases, and Chris Young hit a sacrifice fly.
The A’s answered with three runs in the bottom of the first. Lowrie launched Velazquez’s 3-2 curveball over the center field fence for a two-run homer with one out, his fifth home run of the season. Davis followed with a blast to right-center for his 12th home run. He crushed a 0-2 changeup, giving Oakland back-to-back homers for the first time this season.
“I really wasn’t really ready to pitch there in the first, and they made me pay for it, but to be able to get out of that inning with two runs, and the offense putting up a three-spot right after that, that was really the kick I needed to try to put up some zeros from there,” Gray said.
Boston pulled even in the fourth when Moreland led off with a home run to left-center off Gray, his third blast of the year. The home run was Moreland’s 17th all-time against Oakland and 12th at the Coliseum.
The A’s scored three times in the bottom of the fourth to build a 6-3 lead. Ryon Healy lined a leadoff single and scored on a double by Plouffe, who extended his hitting streak to nine games. Pinder followed with a two-run shot into the left-field seats, hitting Velazquez’s first pitch.
“I left some pitches up in the zone and unfortunately they hit them out of the park,” Velazquez said.
NOTES: The Red Sox designated INF/OF Chase d’Arnaud for assignment, opening a spot on the 25-man roster for RHP Hector Velazquez. ... A’s 1B Yonder Alonso (sore left knee) was out of the lineup Thursday and will likely miss at least two games. He was injured Wednesday during an at-bat at Seattle. An MRI revealed no structural damage. ... Red Sox OF Andrew Benintendi, who is in an 0-for-26 slump, did not play Thursday but is expected to start on Friday night against the A’s.