OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — By the time Sonny Gray got into an unhittable groove Friday night, the New York Yankees already had given David Phelps all the support he needed.
The Oakland Athletics never recovered from Gray’s slow start, and they tallied only two hits in a 7-0 loss to the Yankees in front of an announced sellout crowd of 36,067 at the Coliseum.
“They were aggressive and once we were able to start making pitches down in the zone I got them out. It was just a little too late,” said Gray, who gave up three runs and seven hits in six innings. He struck out seven and walked one.
Jacoby Ellsbury, Mark Teixeira and Brett Gardner each drove in a run as the Yankees built a 3-0 lead against Gray (6-3) in the first two innings. New York scored four more in the eighth off Jeff Francis.
Six different Yankees drove in a run, and New York had 12 hits in all.
“This was probably his most difficult start as far as giving up hits early on,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “But he was able to give us six innings and settled in and threw the ball well after the second inning. That was good to see.”
Phelps (2-4) struck out four and walked three in 6 2-3 innings. He didn’t allow a hit until Derek Norris’ soft single over the head of third baseman Kelly Johnson with one out in the fifth. Jew Lowrie’s double in the seventh was Oakland’s only other hit.
Dellin Betances recorded four straight outs, and Jose Ramirez pitched a perfect ninth for New York.
Coming off a three-game sweep at Seattle, the Yankees kept rolling on the road against the AL West. New York is 5-2 on its nine-game trip and is assured of heading home with a winning mark.
The Yankees pounded an A’s team that began Friday leading the majors in run differential by more than double any other team. Oakland had outscored opponents by 130 runs; the next closest club was San Francisco at 59.
Ellsbury extended his hitting streak to 17 games with an RBI single during a two-run first inning. Brett Gardner added an RBI single in the third before Gray settled down.
Oakland’s young ace retired 13 straight batters, but his teammates never could fluster Phelps – or New York’s bullpen.
“You’re going to have your hot times and you’re going to have your bad times, but you just got to find through those bad times and find a way to be productive,” A’s slugger Brandon Moss said.
Ichiro Suzuki drove in two runs, and Brian McCann and Johnson each hit RBI singles to put the Yankees up 7-0 in the eighth.
New York had lost all five of Phelps’ road starts this season, including his last outing at Kansas City, where he allowed seven runs in 5 2-3 innings.
But Phelps pitched a gem in Oakland, a place the Yankees had lost seven in a row. He also snapped a career-high, four-game skid in front of the fifth sellout this season in Oakland, which had the usual strong sprinkling of Yankees fans to make Phelps feel at home.
“I was attacking guys,” Phelps said. “The last couple starts I was trying to be too fine with my pitches and digging myself in a hole. But tonight, they did a great job scoring early for me and kind of let me settle in a little early.”
NOTES: The A’s showed a video tribute of Bob Welch and held a moment of silence the former A’s pitcher and 1990 AL Cy Young Award winner. Welch died Monday at 57 of undisclosed causes. … Oakland RF Josh Reddick ran on the field for the first time since going on the disabled list June 3 with a hypextended right knee. He also hit in the batting cage. … Scott Kazmir (7-2, 2.20 ERA) starts for Oakland opposite New York’s Hideki Kuroda (4-4, 4.12) on Saturday.