OAKLAND — Khris Davis helped ensure that Sonny Gray finally notched his first win since April.
Davis hit two homers, giving him three in two games since the All-Star break, as the A’s beat Toronto 5-4 Saturday on a sun-drenched afternoon at the Coliseum. The day also included Ryon Healy’s first major league home run, a three-run shot that also accounted for his first big league hit.
That helped make a winner of Gray (4-8), who snapped a career-worst seven-game losing streak and ended a dry spell of 12 consecutive starts without a victory, dating back to April 22. The losing streak was tied for the longest active one in the majors, and it marked the longest by an A’s pitcher since Tyson Ross’ eight-gamer back in 2012.
Most noteworthy in two games since the break is the A’s ability clear the fences. They hit just six home runs over their first 10 games of July but have gone deep six times in their first two games of the second half. Davis, who hit Nos. 21 and 22 for his season, is continuing the power-hitting pace he set in an impressive first half.
All three of the A’s homers came off knuckleballer R.A. Dickey (7-10), who had won three of his previous four starts. Gray went six innings and gave up three runs on six hits.
Toronto closed to within one run on Justin Smoak’s leadoff homer in the ninth off Ryan Madson, but the A’s bagged the victory and will go for a sweep Sunday.
Starting pitching report
It was hardly a smooth ride for Gray, who managed to combat his command issues to post his fourth quality start in his past five outings. He walked four and needed 102 pitches to complete six innings, but it was enough to help him find the win column for the first time since April 22, which was also against Toronto.
It was rough going early on, as Gray threw exactly half of his first 50 pitches for balls. He allowed Josh Thole, the Jays’ No. 9 hitter, a two-run double in the second after getting ahead of him 1-2. Edwin Encarnacion then led off the third with a solo homer that cut Oakland’s lead at the time to 4-3. But in the end, Gray had a ‘W’ next to his name, giving him something positive to draw upon at the end of a laborious afternoon.
Ryan Dull, John Axford and Madson iced the victory for Gray.
At the plate
Healy’s three-run shot to left in the second came on a 66 mile-per-hour knuckler from Dickey. The blast got a standing ovation from Healy’s cheering section of friends and family sitting on the third base side of the diamond. It came on a 2-2 pitch and put the A’s up 4-2. They wouldn’t relinquish the lead. Earlier in the second, Davis connected for his first homer of the day, a solo shot. Then Davis would muscle up in the sixth, hitting a floating knuckleball over the wall to the opposite field, a solo homer that reached the seats in right-center and made the score 5-3.
In the field
Shortstop Marcus Semien made several nice plays in the field, including stopping a hard smash off the bat of Josh Donaldson that went for an inning-ending fielder’s choice and likely saved a run. Semien also committed a throwing error in the second, but even that play turned out well. When his high throw pulled first baseman Yonder Alonso off the bag, Josh Thole rounded third and broke for home and was caught in an inning-ending rundown. A late-game substitution paid off for the A’s in the ninth, as Tyler Ladendorf replaced Jed Lowrie at second base and ran down Darwin Barney’s bloop in shallow center field for the first out of the final inning.
A crowd of 27,510 showed up for Hello Kitty Bobblehead Day.
After having his start pushed back two days because of a blister, Rich Hill (9-3, 2.25) will oppose lefty J.A. Happ (12-3, 3.36) in Sunday’s 1:05 p.m. series finale.