A's beat Orioles 3-2 to drop Baltimore into first-place tie
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) It took about four months, along with injuries to some key starters, for Kendall Graveman to evolve from a pitcher at the back end of the Athletics' rotation to the anchor of manager Bob Melvin's staff.
He certainly looked the part against one of the best-hitting teams in baseball, relying heavily on a nasty sinker and an even more effective cut fastball.
Graveman pitched seven strong innings, Billy Butler hit a tiebreaking single in the sixth and Oakland beat Baltimore 3-2 on Monday night despite another home run from Orioles slugger Manny Machado.
''He was kind of splitting the plate with the sinker and cutter today,'' Melvin said. ''When he has both those working, he can use both sides of the plate and it can be effective against any team.''
Stephen Vogt homered, scored twice and had two RBIs for the A's. Butler added two hits.
Machado, who homered in his first three at-bats Sunday, belted his 26th of the season off A's reliever Ryan Dull with two outs in the eighth.
It wasn't enough to prevent the Orioles from falling into a first-place tie with Toronto in the AL East. The Blue Jays beat Tampa Bay 7-5 earlier Monday.
Vogt homered leading off the fourth against starter Kevin Gausman (3-9), walked and scored the go-ahead run in the sixth and added an RBI single in the seventh.
Adam Jones had three hits for the Orioles.
''We wanted to give Kevin some breathing room,'' Baltimore manager Buck Showalter said. ''We saw a lot of groundballs. We knew (Graveman) was on top of his pitching, and he was.''
Oakland scored three runs total while getting swept in a three-game series against the Chicago Cubs last weekend and didn't get much going against Baltimore, either.
Graveman (8-7) and two relievers made three runs hold up.
Oakland's best pitcher over the past two months, Graveman allowed one run and six hits with four strikeouts.
''The second and third time through we started mixing in some of the breaking balls that I haven't thrown in the past four or five weeks,'' Graveman said. ''I thought that really got hitters off and it kind of got us some early strikes.''
Dull retired three batters and Ryan Madson worked the ninth for his 23rd save.
Gausman pitched well but is winless in 12 road starts this season. He struck out six and allowed two runs over six innings.
THE GOOD AND BAD
A's center fielder Coco Crisp made a leaping catch at the wall to rob Mike Trout of extra bases in the second. The following inning, Crisp and right fielder Danny Valencia appeared to have trouble communicating on Hyun-Soon Kim's one-out fly ball that landed just in front of both of them for a single that loaded the bases, one batter before Machado drove in a run. ''Danny's just starting to play some right field,'' Melvin said. ''It might have had something to do with it there.''
Orioles: Steve Pearce received a cortisone shot in his right forearm that Showalter hopes will prevent the newly acquired outfielder from having to go on the DL. Pearce has been bothered by a flexor mass strain for the past few days.
Athletics: An MRI on RHP Sonny Gray's right forearm revealed some inflammation and light fluid buildup but he won't require surgery, Melvin said. ... INF Jed Lowrie (bunion) will see a foot specialist later this week. ... LHP Ross Detwiler will be called up from the minors Wednesday to make his A's debut. The left-hander was acquired from Cleveland in a July 17 trade.
Orioles: LHP Wade Miley (7-9) makes his second start since getting traded by Seattle. Miley left his Baltimore debut after taking a line drive off his left calf in the fifth inning.
Athletics: RHP Zach Neal (1-1) will come out of the bullpen to make his second career start. Neal has not allowed a run in three relief appearances since July 21.