Sonny Gray pitches through the noise, carries A’s past Rays

Sonny Gray.(Sarahbeth Maney/Special to S.F. Examiner)

Sonny Gray.(Sarahbeth Maney/Special to S.F. Examiner)

Pitching amid a cacophony of rumor and speculation, Sonny Gray spun 6.1 innings of two-run ball on Wednesday afternoon.

Behind Gray, who continued his recent stretch of strong pitching, the Oakland A’s avoided a sweep at the hands of the Tampa Bay Rays, topping their guests 7-2.

The right-hander, who finds himself at the center of torrent of trade talk as the deadline looms at the end of the month, has now let in just six earned runs in his past five starts. Before giving way to the bullpen with one out in the seventh inning, Gray scattered seven hits and two walks while striking out six.

In the get-away-day win, both of the Rays’ runs came in the top of the fourth. Wilson Ramos drove in the first run with an RBI before Brad Miller brought in the second run with a ground ball force out to shortstop Marcus Semien.

An inning later, Oakland finally got on the board and took the lead for good courtesy of a four-run barrage.

Rajai Davis began the rally with a ground-run double down the right-field line followed up by a Matt Joyce sacrifice fly. A wild pitch from Rays starter Jacob Faria brought in a third run, then the final run of the frame crossed the plate by way of a Yonder Alonso line-drive single.

The club also tacked on an insurance run a piece in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings. The final of those three runs came via Joyce, who boomed his 12th home run beyond the wall in right-center field.

Santiago Casilla, who surrendered a pair of runs in the ninth inning of Tuesday night’s 4-3 loss, slammed the door in the series finale, striking out a pair of Rays in a scoreless final frame.

Daniel Coulombe and Liam Hendriks combined to bridge the gap between Gray and Casilla. Coulombe recorded the final two outs of the seventh, while Hendriks delivered a clean eighth inning.

Pinder on track to return by the end of the month

Chad Pinder, who has been shelved since June 24 with a strained left hamstring, is on pace to rejoin the club by the end of the month, according to Bob Melvin.

The A’s manager is hoping to have the super-utility man back for the beginning of the club’s next homestand, which starts on July 28 against the Minnesota Twins. In Pinder’s first rehab game for the Triple-A Nashville Sounds on Tuesday, the right-handed hitter went 1-for-5.Bob Melvinchad pindermatt joyceMLBOakland AthleticsSantiago CasillaSonny GrayTampa Bay Rays

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