BALTIMORE -- A down day for Sonny Gray and a down year for Jim Johnson merged Saturday night in Camden Yards, and the result, a 6-3 Oakland Athletics loss to the Baltimore Orioles, was downright ugly.
Gray pitched four strong innings before losing his command in the fifth and sixth, giving up a season-worst five earned runs. The last of those came when he exited the game with a man on base and Johnson's second pitch was hit for a two-run homer.
It seemed to be just one of those games for Gray, who came into the game 3-0 with a 2.59 ERA in his last seven starts. He had thrown a minimum of six innings in each of his first 12 starts, but he was out of this one after 5 1/3 innings.
It's been one of those years for Johnson, who has been booed at his new home in Oakland and who is rumored to be on the trading block. He'd earned some of the boos with a 14.04 ERA at the Coliseum, but he'd been fairly effective everywhere else before Saturday with a 3-0 record and a 1.84 ERA on the road.
His new home wasn't much kinder to him than the Coliseum when he entered the game in the sixth inning with one out and one on. David Lough, who came into the game with a .184 average and just one homer, jumped on Johnson's second pitch and rode it way out of Camden Yards to give the Orioles their fifth and sixth runs.
Baltimore jumped up early on Gray when Adam Jones homered with two out in the first for a quick 1-0 Orioles advantage.
Gray settled back after that and retired 11 of the next 12 batters before he walked Lough in the fifth with one out. It didn't seem like much at the time, but it was the beginning of the longest night of Gray's season.
Caleb Joseph doubled to break a 1-1 tie, and moments later Nick Markakis singled for 3-1. When Jones hurt Gray again, this time with an RBI single, the Baltimore lead was up to 4-1.
Gray, now 6-2 after his first loss since April 23, was lifted by manager Bob Melvin after he'd walked J.J. Hardy with one out in the sixth. Johnson has had his trouble, but he hadn't allowed a home run all season. Two pitches later, he had. Johnson's sinker should be a double-play pitch, but he was burned on a 95-mph fastball.
The A's tried to rally once Baltimore starter Kevin Gausman was out of the game. Coco Crisp, who'd given the A's their only run off Gausman with a homer in the third, doubled after an Eric Sogard eighth-inning walk off reliever Brian Matusz to set the inning up, and pinch-hitter Kyle Blanks singled home two runs against reliever Darren O'Day.
Gausman, who was called up from the minor leagues to make the start, was 3-5 for the Orioles last year as a rookie. He throws hard and doesn't always have command of the strike zone. He did on Saturday, however, walking one and striking out six.
--Crisp was back in the A's lineup Saturday night in center field and leading off, but he'll get Sunday off and one day during the three-game series with the Angels that begins Monday in Anaheim. That schedule, plus next Thursday's off day, is part of Melvin's plan to allow Crisp to get the rest he needs to see if he can get his sore neck to heal.
--Orioles third baseman Manny Machado, who had objected to Josh Donaldson putting a tag on him in the third inning to the point where both benches emptied, said he hasn't changed his mind about the appropriateness of the play. That being said, Machado said it was time to turn the page. "You have to forget about it and come back tomorrow," he said.
--Left-handed reliever Eric O'Flaherty threw one inning for Class-A Stockton Friday and the A's got good reports. "He threw 13 or 14 pitches and struck out the side," Melvin said. "And he felt good afterward, which is the most important thing." O'Flaherty underwent Tommy John-style ligament replacement surgery 13 months ago and the A's are hoping he will be ready to pitch by the All-Star break. At his current rate of profess, he might be ready sooner.
--The A's finished up their last day of the draft taking 30 players for a total of 40 picks overall. Three of Saturday's picks have Northern California ties, including Saint Mary's junior first baseman Collin Ferguson in the 23rd round. The lefty led the Gaels with 14 doubles and 37 RBIs this year.
--Also picked by the A's were right-handed pitcher Tyler Schimpf from Capital Christian High in Sacramento in the 31st round and Valley Christian High shortstop Bryson Brigman with their 40th and final pick. Schimpf is committed to the University of Texas.
--A's starting pitchers have begun taking batting practice with Oakland's first road interleague games coming up on the next road trip. The A's will visit the Mets and the Marlins on the first two legs of the next road trip, following up with a three-game set against the Tigers. The A's will have to give up the designated hitter seven times in 16 days from June 24-July 10, then wait for the final road National League visit, in Atlanta Aug. 15-17.
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