Tuesday, July 08, 2014
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Chavez, A's handle slumping Giants

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[July 08, 2014]  OAKLAND, Calif. -- When the Oakland A's made a blockbuster trade with the Chicago Cubs last weekend and added right-handers Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel to their stellar rotation, two pitchers had to go.

Sonny Gray and All-Star Scott Kazmir were safe.

Tommy Milone was optioned to Triple-A Sacramento, despite winning six consecutive decisions. Brad Mills was designated for assignment. Jesse Chavez survived, and he rewarded the A's for their vote of confidence with one of his best performances of the season Monday night.

Chavez pitched six shutout innings, lifting the A's to a 5-0 victory against the San Francisco Giants in the opener of the Bay Bridge Series at the O.co Coliseum.

Chavez (7-5) allowed just four hits, walked two and struck out nine, tying his career high. He earned his first victory since June 15 against the New York Yankees. Chavez bounced back from a nightmare start Wednesday against the Detroit Tigers, when he allowed five runs on eight hits in a 9-3 loss.

He had his cutter and fastball working from the outset Monday, and he got the Giants off balance with changeups and curves.

"I just want to hold down this spot," Chavez said. "Whatever role they ask of me, I'll do it. I'm just looking forward to pitching for this team."

The A's allowed a combined four runs in a four-game sweep of Toronto before facing the Giants. In the finale against the Blue Jays, Samardzija allowed just one run over seven innings in his A's debut, a 4-2 victory.


"It's always contagious," Chavez said of good starting pitching. "Yesterday watching Jeff pitch, it was something I wanted to feed off of. That's something I think we all like to feed off as a staff and as a team."

Fernando Abad, Dan Otero and Ryan Cook combined to blank the Giants over the final three innings, capping the shutout. The Giants were shut out for the fourth time in their past eight games.

A's second baseman Alberto Callaspo went 2-for-4 and ripped a key two-run double in the sixth inning, breaking open a close game.

Oakland (56-33) earned its fifth consecutive win, improving to a season-high 23 games over .500. The A's own the best record in baseball and, at 8-1, the best interleague mark. One day after having six players named to the American League All-Star team, the A's stayed focused and kept rolling.

"It's exciting to be a part of the Oakland Athletics right now," said third baseman Josh Donaldson, who was voted in as a starter for the AL team. "How we're playing, a couple transactions that we've made, right on top of that you get your cross-town rival in here, who is one of the best teams in the NL as well. It makes it fun to come to the yard when you got that kind of stuff going on."

The Giants (49-40) had their two-game winning streak snapped. They fell to 6-3 in interleague play as they lost at Oakland for the 10th time in their past 12 tries. They are 7-19 since June 9.

"We've been shut out too many times when you look at the last two weeks," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "More than anything else, we have to get back to (being) the team we were when everybody did something to help us win. We have guys cold with the bats. We have to get that confidence back, the belief it's going to happen. We need to get our sparkplugs cleaned and get them back ready to go."

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Giants right-hander Ryan Vogelsong (5-6) lost his third straight start, allowing three runs and five hits over 5 1/3 innings. He struck out four, walked two and hit two batters.

"It's a good lineup," Vogelsong said of the A's. "You have to make your pitch. I felt like I made some good pitches, just not enough good ones. I just didn't pitch well enough for us to win."

The A's extended their lead to 3-0 with two runs in the sixth as Callaspo lined a two-run double off reliever Juan Gutierrez.

Donaldson, leading off the sixth, was hit by a Vogelsong pitch in his left hand. Shortstop Jed Lowrie singled to center, moving Donaldson to third and ending Vogelsong's night. Callaspo ripped Gutierrez's first-pitch fastball to right-center, snapping an 0-for-9 skid.

"I was looking for something to hit hard," Callaspo said. "Got the fastball. It feels good. Finally got a good pitch to hit, and I got him."

The A's added two unearned runs in the seventh when shortstop Brandon Crawford made two throwing errors.

Chavez and Vogelsong had matched zeros until the A's pushed across a run in the bottom of the fifth on catcher John Jaso's RBI groundout.

NOTES: Giants 3B Pablo Sandoval was out of the lineup for the second consecutive game due to a bruised and swollen left elbow. He was hurt Saturday when he was hit by a pitch. ... RHP Jason Hammel reported to the A's on Monday, two days after he was traded to Oakland from the Chicago Cubs in a five-player deal. Hammel will start Wednesday against the Giants when the Bay Bridge Series moves to San Francisco. ... A's LHP Brad Mills was designated for assignment Monday, clearing a spot on the 25-man roster for Hammel. Mills went 1-1 with a 4.41 ERA in three starts for the A's. ... Oakland 1B Brandon Moss returned to the lineup Monday night after missing two games with a sprained left ankle. He went 0-for-3 with a sacrifice fly. ... Giants 2B Marco Scutaro moved his rehab assignment from the rookie-level Arizona League to Triple-A Fresno, and he went 1-for-3 Monday. Scutaro has been out all season due to back inflammation. "He's getting to the point where he thinks he's close," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said.

[ 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.]

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