ARLINGTON, Texas — Kendall Graveman enjoyed watching and waiting to go to the mound, especially with the Oakland Athletics giving him a five-run lead before throwing his first pitch.
Brett Lawrie hit a grand slam, Josh Phegley homered for the second night in a row and the fast-starting A’s beat Texas 8-2 on Wednesday night for their fourth straight victory.
Lawrie’s third career slam, an estimated 422 feet into the Oakland bullpen in left-center, made it 5-0 in the first.
“It’s just fun to watch those guys hit,” Graveman said. “It helps [me] relax to be able to have confidence in throwing the fastball early in the count and try to get ahead of people.”
Graveman (4-4) allowed two runs pitching into the eighth inning. It was his fourth consecutive game to pitch at least seven innings while allowing two runs or less, but had been 0-2 in the previous three.
The right-hander gave up eight runs in 3 1-3 innings against the Rangers in April and struggled in his first four starts before going back to Triple-A Nashville. He has been strong in seven starts the past month.
“It’s the guy we saw in spring training, he just needed a little break after a few starts, and went down there and made use of his time,” manager Bob Melvin said. “Didn’t go down there and hang his head, was motivated to come back, pitched well there. Came back and hasn’t missed a beat.”
A’s rookie center fielder Billy Burns led off each of the first two innings with doubles, and scored both times on hits by Stephen Vogt. Burns also singled in the third and has a 14-game hitting streak, with hits in 26 of his last 27 games.
Phegley’s two-run homer in the second to make it 8-0.
Carlos Corporan had a two-run double for the Rangers, who have lost four in a row for the first time since April 27-May 1.
Texas had won its last six games started by Wandy Rodriguez, who had allowed three runs or less in each of those games. The lefty gave up 11 hits and eight runs while throwing 94 pitches in four innings against Oakland.
“All my pitches were in trouble. I feel good, but today I felt like my ball had no speed. I tried to throw hard, but something, I don’t know,” Rodriguez said. “I just had bad location on my pitches. I can’t do anything with this one so I ask God to help me do well next outing and try to win, and win the game.”