CLEVELAND (AP) — After consecutive shutouts, the Oakland Athletics’ pitching staff was OK with a little offensive outburst from their teammates.
Josh Donaldson hit a three-run homer and five pitchers combined to beat the struggling Cleveland Indians 8-4 on Wednesday night.
“We did what we needed to win,” manager Bob Melvin said after Oakland took over the AL wild-card lead by one game over Baltimore with its 11th win in 13 games.
“We didn’t close it out in the fashion we usually do,” Melvin said. “The offense was good to see. Our at-bats got better as the game went along.”
Yoenis Cespedis and Josh Reddick each had three of Oakland’s 15 hits as the Athletics moved to 7-0 against the Indians since April 22, outscoring them 44-14.
Travis Blackley (5-3) gave up two runs over 5 2-3 innings. Ryan Cook got four outs for his 13th save.
“Travis was little out of sync, but overall did well,” Melvin said. “Our starters have gotten into a little competition. It is like, `You set the bar and I want to raise it the next day.’ “
The Athletics are 8-4 in the left-hander’s starts. Oakland starters are 9-2 with a 2.70 ERA over the past 13 games. Blackley walked two, extending the starting staff’s streak of two or fewer walks to 25 games.
“They have a very good pitching staff,” Indians manager Manny Acta said. “They’re tough. We can see why they’re playing the way they are playing.”
Donaldson connected off rookie Corey Kluber (0-3) in the fourth for a 3-2 lead. Shoddy fielding by the Indians, losers of 13 of 14, helped Oakland later extend the lead.
Indians shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera was ejected in the first by plate umpire Gary Darling, who took exception to the All-Star arguing a called third strike. The whiff made Cabrera 4 for 36 (.111) in his last 10 games.
“Everybody knows (Darling) missed the pitch,” Acta said. “What’s hard is we spent a lot of time today talking to Cabrera about his struggles as of late because he’s been chasing a lot of pitches out of the zone and how he has to be more patient. He worked a tremendous at-bat there and the guy missed the pitch.”
Cleveland, scoreless in 52 of its last 57 innings, scored more than three runs for the first time in 10 games.
Jason Donald’s homer in the third broke the Indians’ 24-inning scoreless streak, but they fell to 5-26 since July 27. It was the Indians’ first run against the Athletics in 29 innings. They hadn’t scored against them since the ninth inning of an 8-5 loss in Oakland on Aug. 18.
Ezequiel Carrera then tripled and scored on a groundout by Jason Kipnis.
Donaldson made it 3-2 in the fourth, hitting a two-out, 3-2 pitch for his third homer.
“My first thought was fastball,” Donaldson said. “He had shown me all his breaking balls. He hung one and I was able to hit it out.”
Kluber’s defense deserted him in the sixth. With Reddick on first with a one-out infield single, the right-hander got Donaldson to ground to third. Jack Hannahan fielded the ball and threw to second to start a possible double play, but his toss went through second baseman Donald’s legs, putting runners on first and third. Donald was charged with the error for failing to get the low but accurate throw.
Derek Norris followed with an RBI grounder to first baseman Matt LaPorta, who stepped on first for the out. LaPorta turned to throw to second for an inning-ending double play, but instead held the ball before throwing home, too high and too late to get Reddick sliding in.
Seth Smith doubled home a run and scored on Carter’s single in the seventh to make it 6-2.
Cleveland got two unearned runs in the eighth after an error by Donaldson at third.
“It was one of the weirdest things I’ve ever had happen to me on the field,” he said after the ball slipped out of his glove on a rundown play.
Kluber struck out a career-high seven without issuing a walk over six innings.
NOTES: Indians RHP Jeanmar Gomez worked one scoreless inning after being recalled from Triple-A Columbus when OF Shelley Duncan was designated for assignment. Duncan had exactly 11 homers and 29 runs in each of his three years in Cleveland. … Indians 3B Lonnie Chisenhall, out since June 30 (broken right forearm), could begin a minor-league rehab assignment this weekend. … Oakland 3B Brandon Inge, out since Aug. 12 (sprained right shoulder), may not be recalled from his rehab until rosters are expanded Saturday. … Indians RHP Roberto Hernandez threw 35 pitches in a bullpen session and is set to start Saturday against Texas. He left Monday’s start with a sprained right ankle. … There were 366 dogs in the stands on tickets bought by fans for a “Puppypalooza” promotion.