Jharel Cotton. (John Sleezer/Kansas City Star/TNS)

Cotton cruises, as A’s hammer Rangers in home finale

OAKLAND — The Oakland Athletics’ PR staff dug up a stat that perfectly captures Jharel Cotton’s incredible start to his big league career.

Since the earned run became an official stat in 1913, Cotton is the first A’s pitcher ever to allow one or fewer in each of his first four starts.

“He just continues to impress all the way around — his composure, the mix of pitches, not afraid of the stage and who he’s facing,” manager Bob Melvin said after the 7-1 win on Sunday afternoon. “So, yeah, we have a good one here.”

Against the Rangers, Cotton only needed 70 pitches to work his way through seven innings of three-hit, one run ball. The gem helped the A’s avoid a winless homestand.

“Phew. I was nervous going into today,” Melvin said. “I don’t think we’ve lost a complete homestand before this year.”

Melvin was right. The A’s, who entered the day 0-5 since returning to the Coliseum last Monday, have never gone winless on a homestand of four games or more since moving to Oakland.

“That would have just been kind of a cherry on top of a bad season,” Melvin added.

Long-time A’s nemesis Adrian Beltre inflicted the only damage during Cottom’s otherwise spotless outing.

Beltre’s seventh-inning home run bounced off the concrete steps beyond the left-field wall with such force that the ball ricocheted back onto the outfield grass.

“I wish I could give up no runs,” Cotton said. “I feel like in all my starts I give up a home run. But they’re good hitters, big league guys.”

When Colby Lewis took the mound for the bottom of the second inning of the home finale, the A’s hadn’t scored since Wednesday.

By the time Lewis trudged back to the dugout — after retiring just a single out in a half inning that dragged on for 30 minutes — the A’s had scored seven times.

The big swings came from Stephen Vogt and Ryon Healy. Vogt lined a bases-clearing double into the right-field corner, while Healy connected on a two-run homer that looked like it would be a pop-up to left field off the bat.

The first run came courtesy of Bruce Maxwell, who looped a RBI single to left and went 3-for-4. The rookie catcher is now hitting .395 (17-for-43) in 15 September games.

“I think the catching was a little ahead of the hitting going into the season,” Melvin said. “And now the offensive portion has caught.”

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