ANAHEIM, Calif. — The Oakland Athletics got a morale boost from ace Sonny Gray’s return Wednesday night, but it wasn’t enough.
Kole Calhoun homered, Alex Meyer earned his second major league win and the Los Angeles Angels held off a late rally from the A’s to sweep the three-game series with an 8-6 win.
Gray was activated from the 15-day disabled list prior to his start. Gray, who was sidelined with a right forearm strain from Aug. 7-Sept. 27, was limited to only one inning and threw 18 pitches, 13 of them for strikes. He gave up one hit and faced four batters in his first start since Aug. 6.
A’s manager Bob Melvin said his return made a noticeable difference in the clubhouse culture.
“That’s our guy,” Melvin said. “It was sort of an off season for him, but he went out there and was healthy and looked like the old Sonny. Psychologically, he’s good for the whole ball club.”
Khris Davis, who played at nearby Cal State Fullerton, hit his 41st home run and his sixth against the Angels this season in the sixth inning, making the score 8-3. Marcus Semien brought the A’s to within two runs with a three-run homer, also his sixth against Los Angeles, in the eighth.
But J.C. Ramirez pitched a perfect ninth to convert his second save.
“That’s a big blow for us right there,” Melvin said. “You feel like, now we’re back in the ballgame and hold them down. We thought going into the ninth we’d have a chance.”
Mike Trout was hit by a John Axford fastball in the back of his left shoulder in the eighth inning and was removed from the game. He’ll have imaging done Thursday to determine whether or not he can play through the weekend against the Houston Astros.
Trout said the pitch his his shoulder blade and left him with a sizable, sore welt.
“I want to (play), I’ll tell you that,” Trout said. “We’ve got three games left, so I’m going to try to grind it out.” After going down 2-0 early, the Angels rallied for eight runs in the fourth inning. Ross Detwiler (3-3), who replaced Gray in the second, got the first out but then put then put the next four batters on and gave up two runs before getting the second out.
Meyer (2-3) limited the A’s to two runs on five hits over four innings and struck out five.
“I think there’s no doubt that Alex is moving forward in many ways,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “I think first and foremost, I think his delivery is getting more consistent. He’s able to repeat it, his arm angle is where he’s working towards getting it, and hopefully he’ll continue to improve with his consistency.”
With runners on the corners, Shane Robinson cleared the bases with a double to left and took third on the throw. Calhoun homered for the 17th time this season to give Los Angeles a 6-2 lead and Mike Trout singled to keep the inning alive.
Detwiler was finally replaced after giving up a double to C.J. Cron, the 10th batter of the inning. Reliever Chris Smith couldn’t end the threat as he walked the next two batters to walk in a run and Stephen Vogt’s failure to throw to first on a grounder by Jett Bandy allowed Cron to score for the eighth run of the inning.
Gregorio Petit, the 14th batter, finally ended the inning by grounding out to Smith.
“Early on, it looked like he had good stuff,” Melvin said. “The ball was down, the ball was moving, it looked like he had good nicks right away. But then he left some balls up and got into some funky counts.”
Angels: RHP Garrett Richards threw off the mound to hitters for the first time since tearing his ulnar collateral ligament May 1. Richards, who has been throwing for a month after stem cell treatments showed significant healing in the ligament, will throw another bullpen this weekend before continuing his season in the instructional league.
Athletics: RHP Kendall Graveman will start the A’s final series of the season, Thursday in Seattle. Graveman is 0-3 with a 5.28 ERA in his last five starts and has posted similar numbers against the Mariners, going 1-3 with a 5.40 ERA in seven career appearances.
Angels: Los Angeles manager Mike Scioscia declined to name a starter for Friday’s series-opener against the Houston Astros. RHP Daniel Wright or RHP Jhoulys Chacin are likely candidates.