OAKLAND — The Oakland Athletics are opening up quite a cushion in the AL West.
Josh Donaldson hit a two-run single in a four-run third inning against Oakland nemesis Jered Weaver and the A’s completed a three-game sweep of the Los Angeles Angels with a 6-3 victory on Sunday.
“We played well this series,” Donaldson said. “Got some timely hits and we pitched well. I definitely think it’s one of those series we walk away and feel good about ourselves.”
Jed Lowrie homered and drove in two runs and Coco Crisp added an RBI double against Weaver (6-4) to give the A’s their first home sweep of at least three games against the Angels since June 29-July 1, 2004.
Oakland leads the AL West by 4½ games over Los Angeles, its largest pre-All-Star break lead since being 5½ up in 1990.
“We stubbed our toe this weekend but we’re looking at the big picture,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “We’re a good team and our pitchers are a big part of that.”
The big inning was more than enough support for Sonny Gray (6-1), who allowed a pair of sacrifice flies and an RBI double by Erick Aybar in 6 2-3 innings to rebound from a rare rough start. Gray has 11 quality starts in 12 outings this season for a 2.45 ERA.
“We all knew coming in it was tight and they were playing really good baseball and we needed to take care of business at home,” Gray said. “The way we were able to put these three games together … that was awesome.”
As good as Gray has been this season, Weaver has been even better against the A’s of late. He allowed just two runs in 44 1-3 innings over six starts the past two seasons against Oakland, proving to be the one Angels pitcher who befuddled the A’s on their way to back-to-back AL West titles.
Oakland more than doubled that scoring output in the fourth inning with a rally that got started when Craig Gentry hustled to beat out a potential double play. Gentry went to third on Eric Sogard’s single and scored on Crisp’s double. Donaldson added his two-run single and Lowrie capped the inning with a two-out single that made it 4-0.
“This is a totally different A’s club,” Weaver said. “They have great pitching, guys who can get on base at the bottom of the order and who can do the little things. I had one inning that got away from me. I wish we played better this series, but it is not the end of the year. We’ll see them again.”
Gray escaped a bases-loaded jam by striking out Hank Conger to end the fourth inning before allowing the sacrifice flies to Aybar and Albert Pujols in the fifth.
Lowrie, who entered the game in a 4-for-30 slump, hit his solo homer in the bottom of the fifth to put Oakland back up by three and the A’s added an unearned run in the sixth as Oakland matched its highest scoring output ever against Weaver in 27 career starts.
“I think he just left some pitches up,” Donaldson said. “He tries to execute up at times, but there are times when he left some off-speed pitches up and that gives us a chance to definitely hit the ball a little bit harder.”
Gray was replaced by Dan Otero after Aybar’s two-out double in the seventh made it 6-3. Otero struck out Pujols to end the inning.
Luke Gregerson pitched a scoreless eighth and Sean Doolittle struck out the side in order in the ninth for his fifth save in six chances.
NOTES: Weaver allowed six runs — five earned — and 11 hits in six innings. … Angels OF Mike Trout missed a second straight game with a stiff back. … C Stephen Vogt started after being called up from Triple-A Sacramento early in the day to give Oakland another bat with 1B Brandon Moss (right calf) and outfielder Josh Reddick (right knee) day to day with injuries. … Both teams are off Monday. The Angels open a three-game series in Houston on Tuesday, while the A’s start a three-game series against the Yankees in New York.