LOS ANGELES — With every pitch in a masterful three-hitter, Sonny Gray reminded the Oakland Athletics that their season is far from finished after a tumultuous few days.
Gray struck out nine in his second shutout in July, and Oakland snapped its four-game losing streak with a 2-0 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Tuesday night.
Josh Reddick homered, doubled and singled for the last-place A’s, who traded Ben Zobrist, Scott Kazmir and closer Tyler Clippard in the past six days, seemingly abandoning their playoff hopes after making three straight postseasons. Yet Gray and Reddick provided exactly what manager Bob Melvin wants out of his team for the final two months.
“It gives everybody a little boost of confidence,” said Reddick, who capitalized on a rare chance to hit against a left-hander. “We can still win a lot of ballgames. We’ve just got to keep that confidence in ourselves and believe in ourselves. We’ve been saying all day, the main goal is to win ballgames, with or without those guys.”
During a pregame meeting at Dodger Stadium after Zobrist was shipped to Kansas City, Melvin told the A’s they can’t give up despite the sell-off trades.
“I haven’t been through this before, having some guys taken away in the middle of the season in this fashion, but it’s baseball,” Melvin said. “We put ourselves in this position. It’s more of a punishment for [the current A’s]. It got everybody’s attention.”
Oakland won with another gem from Gray (11-4), who cruised through his fourth career shutout and lowered his ERA to an AL-best 2.16. The right-hander didn’t allow a runner to reach third base while improving to 8-1 with a 1.64 ERA on the road this season.
“Doesn’t matter who’s out there, who’s in the clubhouse, who’s not,” Gray said. “When the game starts, it’s 25 guys out there, and you’re just trying to win a baseball game. I don’t think that’s going to change for us. We’re going to go out there and we’re going to compete and we’re going to battle, and try to win as many games as we can.”
Howie Kendrick had two hits and Brett Anderson pitched seven innings of five-hit ball for the Dodgers, who opened a five-game homestand with their third straight loss.
Gray retired the first 11 batters and faced only three hitters over the minimum in his first career start against the Dodgers. He even got his first major league hit in the eighth inning, sneaking a single down the right field line.
“He’s one of the best pitchers in the league,” Kendrick said. “He just threw a lot of strikes and got outs when he needed them. We hit some balls hard, but right at guys.”
Anderson (5-6) looked sharp against his former team after a full week off to rest a mild Achilles tendon injury, but his Dodgers provided little help.
“I think there were only two guys in their lineup that I played with,” Anderson said. “Unfortunately, one of them got three hits and a home run.”
Billy Burns hit a leadoff single and eventually scored on Billy Butler’s groundout in the first inning for Oakland.
Gray didn’t even let the Dodgers get the ball into the outfield before Adrian Gonzalez’s two-out double in the fourth. Andre Ethier was caught stealing after drawing Gray’s only walk in the fifth, and Kendrick was stranded on second in the seventh after a leadoff single.
Gray got his milestone hit with an unfamiliar bat: Kazmir left for Houston last week with the bat they had been sharing all season. Gray tried Sam Fuld’s bat earlier in the game before borrowing a top-heavy 32-ouncer from Butler for his big hit. “Now he gets to keep it,” Butler said. “He was telling me, ‘Pick me out a winner.’”
Edward Mujica is taking over as the A’s closer after Clippard was traded to the Mets. Newly acquired right-hander Aaron Brooks will start Saturday.
Jesse Chavez (5-10, 3.45 ERA) will square off against the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw tomorrow. Chavez is second in the AL in losses despite the league’s eighth-lowest ERA.