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A’s fall 4-3 to Braves, lose hold on AL West lead

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ATLANTA (AP) — For the first time in almost four months, the Athletics do not have sole claim to first place in the AL West.

A four-game losing streak, including two straight losses to the Braves, and the change in the standings hasn’t affected the confidence of Oakland’s players, who insist their luck is bound to turn.

Sonny Gray gave up four runs in 5 1-3 innings and homers by Stephen Vogt and John Jaso were not enough as Oakland fell to Atlanta 4-3 on Saturday night.

Chris Johnson drove in two runs with three hits for Atlanta, while Julio Teheran allowed two runs in six innings.

The A’s matched their worst skid of the season by losing four in a row as they fell percentage points behind the Angels in the AL West – .595 to .593. It is the first time since April 28 the A’s have not held sole possession of the division lead.

“It’s tough to go through this as a team but I feel like everyone goes through it and maybe this is our time right now,” Gray said.

“We’ve just got to go out there and play with confidence.”

Manager Bob Melvin said Gray (12-7) had no breaks as he gave up eight hits and suffered his fourth straight defeat.

“I thought he pitched well,” Melvin said. “He got a little tired at the end but three of those hits are bloops; two of them scored runs.”

Oakland hitters complained they also had no breaks, either.

“I can’t remember the last time we got a bloop hit,” said Jaso, whose eighth-inning homer off Jordan Walden cut Atlanta’s lead to one run. “But that’s baseball. There’s a lot of season left.”

Oakland has dropped six of seven overall but still commands respect from the Braves.

“They’re a tough ballclub,” Johnson said. “They’ve played really well all year. We’re just trying to prove to ourselves we can play with them and we can stay in this thing.”

The Braves remained six games behind Washington in the NL East. Atlanta began the night two games behind the NL wild-card leaders.

Teheran (11-9) gave up two runs on four hits and three walks.

Craig Kimbrel got his 36th save in 40 chances.

There was a brief delay in the bottom of the sixth when a nude man ran onto the field. He was quickly tackled by security officers and taken off the field.

The A’s also lost four straight from May 22-25.

Atlanta closed it out after Josh Reddick led off the A’s ninth with a long fly ball that Justin Upton caught at the left-field wall.

THROW (WAY, WAY) BACK

Atlanta celebrated the 100th anniversary of the 1914 Boston Braves. The Braves and A’s wore retro uniforms. The “Miracle Braves” spent much of the season in last place before rallying to earn a spot in the World Series, where they swept Connie Mack’s Philadelphia A’s. Oakland players all wore high socks with horizontal stripes while Braves players stayed with the 2014 style of wearing their pants over their socks.

HOT STREAK

Vogt is 11 for 30 (.367) with three homers and eight RBIs in his last eight games as he has recovered from an 0-for-21 stretch from July 20 to Aug. 6.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Athletics: SS Jed Lowrie, placed on the 15-day disabled list on Thursday with a broken right index finger, has remained with the team and has even fielded grounders. Melvin said Lowrie is trying to keep himself “as close to game-ready as he can without overtaxing the finger.”

Braves: Simmons, who did not play on Friday night when he had a headache after having two teeth extracted, was back in the lineup. Phil Gosselin, who hit his first homer on Friday night while filling in for Simmons, started at second base and had two hits. … RHP Shae Simmons (strained right shoulder) began a rehab assignment with Triple-A Gwinnett.

UP NEXT

Athletics: Jon Lester, who beat the Braves on May 27 while with the Red Sox, will look for his fourth straight win with Oakland. He has won seven decisions in a row overall.

Braves: Mike Minor, who is 1-3 with a 7.17 ERA in four starts since the All-Star break, will try to build on encouraging results in his last start, when he allowed three runs in 6 2-3 innings against the Dodgers. Minor has allowed a .372 batting average in those four starts.