March 19, 2016

MESA, Ariz. (AP) Oakland ace Sonny Gray struggled through five-plus innings Saturday, allowing five earned runs on eight hits, before the split-squad Athletics rallied past the Cincinnati Reds 7-6.

Set to start on opening day, Gray got in his longest outing so far this spring. He started the sixth inning but left after the Reds' Adam Duvall, the first batter, singled. Gray issued a walk and threw two wild pitches.

Manager Bob Melvin said Gray had a difficult morning with his young son and looked tired when he got the ballpark.

''He kind of looked like he ran out of gas to me,'' A's catcher Stephen Vogt said. ''That can happen early in spring, especially with how hot it was. But I thought he threw some good breaking balls, some good changeups. His slider was a little inconsistent.''

Danny Valencia hit a two-run homer, one of his two hits, and scored twice for Oakland.

''I felt my swing was there. In (batting practice) I could feel it,'' Valencia said. ''The past couple of days I was able to fix some things in the cage and off video.''

Valencia is batting .385 in spring training and has homered in four of his last five games.

''He's put himself in a position where he's got a chance to have a really good year,'' Melvin said.

Brandon Phillips had two hits, scored twice and drove in a run for the Reds. Jose Peraza drove in two runs and stole a base. He's tied for the team lead in hits this spring with 13.

''We put a lot of balls in play. I think more than anything he (Gray) gets a lot of ground balls and misses the bat a lot to strike guys out,'' Reds manager Bryan Price said. ''We were able to put them in play and make some things happen which was good to see.''

Reds starter Raisel Iglesias pitched only two innings and surrendered two unearned runs on a hit and two walks. He had one strikeout.

''This game was pretty good for me except for a couple of little details. It was interesting. It went well enough,'' he said in Spanish.

DEFENSIVE LAPSES

The two teams combined for four errors in the first 2 1/2 innings and the A's had four in the game. Two Oakland errors gifted the Reds a run in the second inning. Phillips reached on Valencia's fielding error, took second in a long fly ball out and scored from there when Sam Fuld overran a ground single to left field. In the third, the ball slipped out of Gray's hands for an error after he fielded Billy Hamilton's bouncer.

''We weren't really crisp and sharp out there, that's for sure,'' Valencia said. ''It was unusual. Defense is something that we need to take very seriously.''

Peraza's missed catch on a high throw from Iglesias after a comebacker helped the A's score twice in the second inning. ''That's something I've done since I started playing baseball,'' Iglesias said. ''I don't know how to throw lazily to the bases. I always throw it hard.''

DEFENSIVE GEM

The best defensive play of the game came in the top of the fourth inning, when Gray was in a jam with two runs already in and runners on first and second with one out. Jake Cave hit a hard ground ball up the middle that looked headed for center field, but Eric Sogard dove to stop the ball and flipped it out of his glove to second base to start an inning-ending double play. ''Whether it's second or short, he brings his glove every day,'' Melvin said of Sogard. ''Guys when they're on the mound feel good about him behind them.''

TRAINER'S ROOM

Athletics: P Henderson Alvarez, who has not pitched this spring as he recovers from shoulder surgery, will go with the team to the Bay Area after Arizona spring training and face hitters for the first time, Melvin said. He threw a 30-pitch bullpen session on Saturday.

STARTING TIME

Reds: Iglesias is bound for the starting rotation but made only his second spring training start on Saturday. He was eased into starts because of shoulder soreness but said Saturday he feels fine physically. ''I feel stronger and my bullpen sessions between starts have been great,'' he said.

Athletics: Gray made his third spring training start. ''He's not pleased with how he pitched. But at the same time, if a couple of balls had bounced certain ways... he made overall some really good pitches,'' Vogt said.

UP NEXT

Reds: LHP Brandon Finnegan faces Shelby Miller and the Arizona Diamondbacks on Sunday. It will be Finnegan's fifth outing of spring training.

Athletics: Left-hander Sean Manaea has impressed so far in spring training and will look to continue making a push for the big league roster. He faces the Chicago White Sox on Sunday.

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