OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) Less than eight months after finishing third in voting for the AL Cy Young award, Athletics ace Sonny Gray is mired in the longest slump of his career.
There is little indication that things are going to get better any time soon, either.
Gray lost his sixth consecutive decision after blowing an early three-run lead and the Athletics offense was held to one hit over the final seven innings of a 7-3 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates on Friday night.
''This hasn't been his best year and he'll figure it out and he'll get better as the year goes on,'' A's manager Bob Melvin said. ''There's always going to be a year that's as not good as other years. So far this is the one for him. He's been good for us.''
Gray was coming off two fairly decent starts before blowing up against Pittsburgh in the Pirates first trip to the Oakland Coliseum since June 27, 2010.
Gray (3-7) gave up seven runs, hit a batter and threw two wild pitches in six innings while losing his sixth consecutive decision. The right-hander, third in the 2015 AL Cy Young voting, is winless since April 22.
''Once I got to two outs, I just wasn't able to get them out,'' Gray said. ''There were times, like in the sixth where I got two quick outs, I have to be able to shut that inning down and get back out there for the seventh . and not hit a guy and walk another. It just escalated from there.''
Jody Mercer homered and had an RBI single to help Pittsburgh rally from three runs down to beat. Matt Joyce added two hits, Josh Harrison drove in two runs while Andrew McCutcheon doubled and scored on a wild pitch to help the Pirates to their first win in their history at the Coliseum and just their second in 13 games between the two franchises.
They did it by taking advantage of another shaky outing by Gray (3-7).
''We just stayed the course,'' Harrison said. ''We just put together some good at-bats as a team and it wasn't easy on him.''
Marcus Semien hit his 17th home run of the season for Oakland.
Pirates starter Jeff Locke (8-5) also struggled early but retired the final nine batters he faced to win his third straight. He gave up three runs over five innings with three walks and three strikeouts.
Three relievers combined to retire the final 12 batters and complete the four-hitter.
Mercer homered in the third and added an RBI single as part of a two-run fifth.
Harrison's two-out, two-run double in the sixth put the Pirates up 7-3.
Semien's home run was his fifth in nine games, padding his AL-leading total among shortstops. Melvin thinks Semien's offensive surge should be good enough to earn the young shortstop a trip to the All-Star game in San Diego later this month. ''Hopefully that merits some consideration going forward,'' Melvin said. ''You can't ignore the numbers. Not only is he doing it all offensively, he doing defensively too. He just maturing.''
Jed Lowrie had decent results while batting leadoff for the first time this season. He drew a walk from Locke in the first before Semien homered on a 3-2 pitch. Oakland's second baseman added an RBI double in the second to make it 3-0.
Athletics: Infielder Tyler Ladendorf was recalled from Triple-A Nashville before the game. Left-hander Dillion Overton, the losing pitcher against San Francisco on Thursday, was optioned down. Overton went 1-1 with an 11.42 ERA in two starts.
Pirates: Right-hander Chad Kuhl (1-0) pitches against Oakland on Saturday in his second career start in the majors after beating Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers in his debut.
Athletics: Rich Hill is expected to come off the disabled list to start against Pittsburgh. The left-hander had been out since May 30 with a strained groin.