Gonzalez, two A’s relievers shut out Indians
CLEVELAND – Gio Gonzalez kept the Oakland pitchers’ roll going and the Athletics’ offense finally hit some long balls.
Gonzalez (11-8) pitched seven solid innings in a 5-0 victory over the Cleveland Indians as Jeff Larish and Jack Cust hit two-run homers and Coco Crisp added a solo shot.
“All around, it was a fun night,” Gonzalez said. “My stuff was there and it is always nice to see the offense come through.”
Oakland snapped its streak without multiple homers at 26 games, longest since a team-record 31 games in 1978. The Athletics are last in the majors with 76 homers.
Gonzalez gave up five hits, one walk and struck out seven, becoming the 22nd consecutive Oakland starter to work at least six innings. The Athletics staff has allowed five runs or fewer in all those games, the longest streak by an AL team since the 1989 California Angels had 22 in a row.
“They build on each other,” Oakland manager Bob Geren said of the A’s rotation, which has a 2.01 ERA and held opponents to a .198 batting average since July 31.
The Athletics are 11-11 over that stretch after beating Fausto Carmona (11-12).
“We get some more offense, we can blow right past that (.500) mark,” Geren said. “Carmona had real nasty movement tonight and a good changeup. Scoring off him was a good sign.”
Michael Wuertz worked the eighth inning and Jerry Blevins the ninth for Oakland as Cleveland was shut out for the 11th time, tying Seattle for most in the AL. Oakland has four of the shutouts against the Indians, who have dropped 12 of their last 16 at home.
Gonzalez improved to 4-0 with a 0.89 ERA in four career starts against Cleveland. He worked out of jams in the second, fourth and fifth as the Athletics opened a 10-game trip to Cleveland, Texas and New York with only their third win in the last 11 road games. Oakland is 24-35 on the road overall.
The left-hander struck out Trevor Crowe with runners on second and third to end the second. Both runners had reached on errors. Cleveland got its first two hits and loaded the bases with two outs in the fourth before Crowe bounced into a forceout. Shelley Duncan took a called third strike with two on to end the fifth.
“I tried not to overthink,” the 24-year-old Gonzalez said. “Little by little, I’m growing up, keeping my composure.”
Cleveland stranded 10 baserunners and was 1 for 6 with runners in scoring position.
“We’re scuffling overall, whether there’s two outs, one out, no outs, we’re scuffling offensively,” manager Manny Acta said. “Fausto got hurt by those two long balls, but overall he threw the ball well. He gave us a chance.”
Carmona worked out of a bases-loaded threat, too, getting No. 9 hitter Cliff Pennington on a fly to right to end the fourth.
The right-hander allowed four runs and nine hits over 6 2-3 innings as the latest Cleveland starter to struggle. The Indians’ rotation is 1-13 over the last 17 games, during which Cleveland is 5-12.
Carmona lost his fourth straight start since winning in Boston on Aug. 2.
Larish, in his first at-bat since being recalled from Triple-A Sacramento on Friday, followed a single by Rajai Davis with a homer to center for a 2-0 lead in the second.
Crisp opened the fifth by lining a 3-2 pitch over the wall in right for his sixth homer. The former Indians outfielder went 3 for 5, a triple shy of the cycle, and is hitting .391 (25 for 64) over his last 16 games.
“Guys told me to go for the triple,” Crisp said of his flyout to center in the ninth. “I just wanted to hit it hard. I was running, but I hit it too high.”
Cust’s homer was his 10th, but first in 42 at-bats against lefties this year.
NOTES: Oakland 3B Kevin Kouzmanoff, in a 4-for-42 slump (.095), did not start. He replaced Larish for defense in the eighth. Larish made two errors on one play in the second. Kouzmanoff has the AL’s second-lowest batting average in August at .145. Oakland C Kurt Suzuki went 0 for 4 and is hitting .138, 9 for 65, in August. … Indians OF Michael Brantley missed his fourth game with a sprained left ankle. He took batting practice and could start Wednesday. … Cust has hit .330 (30 for 91) with eight homers and 26 RBIs in 27 career games against Cleveland, including 6 for 13 (.462) off Carmona. … Cleveland RHP Justin Germano worked two scoreless innings. He has not yielded an earned run in 14 2-3 innings over 10 outings since being called up July 30.
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