PEORIA, Ariz. (AP) — Sonny Gray retired the first 11 in four scoreless innings and Jed Lowrie hit his first home run of the spring for Oakland on Tuesday before the San Diego Padres rallied for a 6-5 victory over the Athletics.
Gray allowed only Will Venable’s ground single while striking out two with no walks in 45 pitches. He was helped by Sam Fuld’s sliding catch of Alexi Amarista’s liner to left in the third.
It was a significant improvement from Gray’s last start, when he gave up four runs on five hits in one inning while not throwing his curveball or sinker.
“I thought my curveball was good today and my sinker, I was able to get a lot of groundballs,” said Gray, who indicated he treated it like a regular-season game.
Lowrie’s two-run shot to right off Ian Kennedy came in a three-run first. Coco Crisp, who had been 1 for 13, doubled twice and drove in a run and John Jaso added an RBI double for the A’s.
Kennedy yielded four runs and eight hits, including four doubles, in four innings.
“Fastball was a little up today,” Kennedy said. “Changeup is not quite there yet. Curveball feels good. Overall, I’m glad it’s not quite the regular season yet.”
Alex Dickerson hit a three-run homer off Philip Humber in a four-run seventh for the Padres.
Athletics: The dominant performance could earn Gray, who started two playoff games as a rookie a year ago, consideration for opening day.
“It would be cool,” Gray said.
Padres: Kennedy, who is working on his release point and fastball command, is confident he can return to the 2011 form with Arizona when he went 21-4.
“Winning 20 games is hard, a lot of things have to go your way,” he said. “But to pitch like that, yeah, I believe I’ve been given those tools to repeat it.”
Athletics: Shortstop Addison Russell, who strained his right hamstring Monday, will be sidelined at least a week. . Left-hander Eric O’Flaherty, recovering from elbow reconstruction surgery, threw 18 pitches in his first bullpen session at full distance. . Right-hander Ryan Cook (shoulder) threw another bullpen session.
Padres: Catcher Yasmani Grandal said he awoke Tuesday “not sore at all,” a day after he caught three innings in his first game since tearing his right ACL in July. . Manager Bud Black said the next task for third baseman Chase Headley (hamstring) in his recovery is “straightaway running with intensity.”
With Russell sidelined, shortstop Hiroyuki Nakajima of Japan was brought up from minor league camp and played the final three innings. He had a liner bounce out of his glove for a hit in the seventh.
“It’s good to get him back here and moving around,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “It would have been nice to get him an at-bat, but hopefully that will be the case soon.”
The highly-touted Nakajima signed a two-year, $6.5 million deal in December 2012 and was in line to be the A’s starting shortstop until they acquired Lowrie.
Nakajima then struggled defensively in spring training and spent the entire 2013 season in Triple-A. He’s no longer on the 40-man roster and wasn’t invited to big-league camp.
Padres second baseman Jedd Gyorko grabbed a basketball out of his locker Tuesday morning, dribbled between his legs out a side door and promptly sank 12 consecutive mid-range jumpers.
The hoop, prominently located between the clubhouse and batting cage, is a hub of activity.
“Just a little competitive fun that we have,” Gyorko said.
Who’s the best shooter? That will be determined in an upcoming contest.
“Chase (Headley) is good. Jesse (Hahn) can shoot. I’ve been able to put it up a few times,” Gyorko said. “We’ll see. This competition will weed out the weak.”