Sonny Gray was sitting toward the back of the dugout, listening to the power spree that put Oakland in control.
Gray won his sixth straight decision, helped when the Athletics hit four home runs in a six-batter span to beat the Texas Rangers 5-1 Saturday night.
The A’s trailed 1-0 when John Jaso hit a two-run drive with two outs in the sixth inning. Yoenis Cespedes followed with his 17th home run.
Josh Donaldson led off the seventh with another home run and Josh Reddick connected two batters later.
“I really couldn’t see much of the game going on,” Gray said. “Then I just heard everyone yell when John hit his, so I assumed something good happened.”
Gray (12-3) allowed seven hits over 6 2-3 innings to tie for the major league lead in wins. He didn’t give up more than one earned run in any of his five July starts.
“The numbers speak for themselves,” Oakland manager Bob Melvin said. “He’s tough to follow around when you’re a hitter. And, on top of that, he’s quite a competitor.”
Jaso’s shot off right-hander Nick Tepesch (3-7) into the front row of the right-field stands was his eighth homer of the year. Cespedes followed with a drive to nearly the same spot, only a few rows farther.
Donaldson and Reddick went deep against reliever Nate Adcock.
“It was cool,” Gray said.
Gray said he turned more than usual to his changeup and wasn’t concerned that he matched a career high with four walks. He allowed a fourth-inning run when J.P. Arencibia singled home Jim Adduci.
“He’s not 12-3 for nothing,” Texas manager Ron Washington said.
Tepesch, who threw 99 pitches in a start last Sunday and then made a relief appearance two days later in a 14-inning loss, exited with a 2-1 count to Donaldson because of soreness in his left knee.
Tepesch had this start pushed back a day.
Gray hasn’t lost since June 13. In four starts this season against Texas, he has a 1.84 ERA.
“If you’re able to get off to a good start – first two, three innings, you’re able to put up a zero – I think it’s really big to the team,” Gray said.
It doesn’t hurt to have support from all those big bats. Oakland went into the game leading the majors in runs and ranked fourth in the AL in homers.
“When you have Josh Reddick hitting down in the order – a guy who’s had 32 home runs in his career in a season – it means that you’re deep,” Melvin said. “Home runs are a big part of our game.”
Jaso said Tepesch started him off in the sixth with a cut fastball before throwing a changeup.
“Usually an effective pitch to go with,” Jaso noted.
But it was up over the plate.
“Definitely not in the spot where he was intending,” he added.
Cespedes then topped Jaso’s drive by a couple of rows.
“Once again,” Jaso said with a frown.
Jaso left in the eighth with irritation in his left knee, but Melvin expects him to play Sunday.
The four homers were the most for the A’s since they hit five against Detroit on May 26.
Oakland’s late power display prevented the Rangers, who own the worst record in the majors, from winning consecutive games for the first time since June 27-28.
NOTES: Oakland’s starter on Sunday, Scott Kazmir, ranks second in the AL with a 2.32 ERA. He hasn’t allowed more than one earned run in any of his last four starts. … Rangers LHP Derek Holland (knee) will make his first rehab start on Wednesday for Double-A Frisco if a Monday bullpen session goes well. … A’s infielder Alberto Callaspo (hamstring) is scheduled to be activated for Sunday’s series finale.
Updated July 27, 2014
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