Padres try to avoid four-game sweep vs Oakland
Kendall Graveman didn't sulk about the hard-luck loss he suffered after the Oakland Athletics failed to put any runs on the board five days ago.
That scenario doesn't seem likely to play out again.
The hot-hitting A's seek a season-best fifth straight victory as they go for a four-game sweep of the San Diego Padres when this two-city series concludes on Thursday.
Graveman (3-3, 4.22 ERA) went 1-2 with an 8.27 ERA in four April starts before being demoted to the minors, but the 24-year-old has had an impressive turnaround since being recalled May 23 and is coming off the best start of his young career.
The right-hander is 2-1 with a 2.20 ERA in his last five outings and allowed only Albert Pujols' first-inning homer in a complete-game, 1-0 loss to the Los Angeles Angels on Saturday. It marked the first time he didn't allow a walk.
"Kendall's pitched some great games for us, but I don't know if any of them were better than that," manager Bob Melvin said. "The last three times out, he deserved to win every game he pitched. He was terrific."
Oakland had a season-worst two hits that night but seems destined to provide more support for Graveman this time around. The A's (29-39) are hitting .342 while outscoring opponents 39-9 during their winning streak after beating the Padres 16-2 on Wednesday.
Billy Butler finished 4 for 5 with a three-run homer, and Ben Zobrist also drove in three runs while recording three of Oakland's 20 hits. It marked the club's most runs and hits since beating Minnesota 18-3 with 22 hits on Sept. 11, 2013.
"We just started feeding off each other, hit some balls hard and found some holes," said Butler, who went 4 for 29 with no extra-base hits over his previous nine. "I haven't had the greatest first half, but this helps things turn around."
The Padres (32-36) have scored 10 runs during a four-game losing streak, with three of those defeats coming after Monday's firing of manager Bud Black. That also was the day Wil Myers was placed back on the disabled list, and it was announced Wednesday that surgery to remove bone spurs in his left wrist will cause him to miss up to eight more weeks.
Eighth hitter Will Middlebrooks homered in the sixth, and No. 9 batter Alexi Amarista added a home run in the eighth. Justin Upton went 0 for 3 and is hitting .148 with 11 strikeouts in his last eight.
Amarista, a shortstop, also pitched and got the final out in the bottom of the eighth.
"We pressed a little bit," interim manager Pat Murphy said. "This team has been through a lot in the last week. Not making excuses for them. I've been here a short time but there's things to really believe in."
Ian Kennedy's successful outing helped San Diego earn its most recent victory after he allowed one run and four hits in seven innings of Saturday's 2-1 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Kennedy (3-5, 5.84) saw his ERA rise to 7.15 after eight starts, but he's gone 1-0 with a 3.00 ERA over his last three.
The right-hander hasn't faced Oakland since allowing seven runs in a loss with Arizona in 2011. Butler is 3 for 8 with a homer off Kennedy.