OAKLAND, Calif. -- Oakland A's right-hander Sonny Gray earned his third win of the season on April 22 against Toronto in just his fourth start.
Gray had to wait 85 days and 13 starts to get win No. 4, allowing three runs over six innings in a 5-4 victory Saturday against the Blue Jays. He'll try to make it back-to back wins Thursday night when the A's open a four-game series against the Tampa Bay Rays and left-hander Matt Moore at the Oakland Coliseum.
"That's the main reason you play this game is to win," said Gray, who finished third in the American League Cy Young Award voting last year. "I started pretty good and won then went through that long stretch and then I went on the DL. And then when I came off the DL I felt like I was throwing the ball well with nothing to show for it, but that's part of it. Hopefully now I'll get on a pretty good roll."
Gray (4-8) is 1-3 with a 4.07 ERA in his past eight starts since coming off the disabled list after recovering from a strained right trapezius. He allowed one run in three of those starts, two runs in two and three runs in one. He also gave up seven runs in a loss to Pittsburgh and five runs in a no-decision against Texas.
"I've continuously said this ever since I've come back from the DL, I've felt really good," Gray said. "You take two starts out of there, basically one inning against the Rangers and the start against the Pirates, you take those two starts out and every game has gone I would say pretty well. I feel good. I know I wasn't winning any games but I felt like I was throwing the ball well. It might not have been an easy inning every time, but going out there and going six innings. I expect more out of myself than that, but it's still been pretty good with the exception of two starts."
In his victory against Toronto, Gray gave up three runs through three innings but blanked the Blue Jays for his final three innings. He hopes to build on that strong finish against Tampa Bay.
"Actually just come out and attack from the first inning on," Gray said. "Just come out and the plan is to go out and compete, throw a lot of strikes and throw as many quality strikes as I can in a row and see where it goes from there."
Moore is 5-7 with a 4.33 ERA, but he has pitched at least six innings in each of his past eight games and has gone 3-4 with a 3.02 ERA with 38 strikeouts and 13 walks during that stretch.
Moore gave up just two runs over 7 1/3 innings in a 2-1 loss to Baltimore in his previous start. He gave up a two-run homer to J.J. Hardy in the second inning.
"I just feel like I'm pitching to my capabilities," Moore said after his last start. "Being able to string together back-to-back innings where we retired three in a row. I think that's something to hang my hat on most these days. Just being able to get some quick innings, keep my pitch count on track."
That was Moore's longest outing since July 22, 2013, during his All-Star season when he went 17-4 with a 3.29 ERA. Moore underwent Tommy John surgery on April 22, 2014, and has gone 8-11 since then over the past two seasons.
Oakland took two of three games against the Rays at Tropicana Field on May 13-15. Moore and Gray faced each other on May 15 when the A's defeated the Rays 7-6. Both starters got no-decisions. Moore gave up four runs on seven hits over five innings. Gray allowed six runs (three earned) and six hits in 5 2/3 innings.
The Rays had lost 11 straight road games before beating Colorado 10-1 on Tuesday night in Denver. The Rays scored in double digits again Wednesday, beating the Rockies 11-3.
Oakland has won four of six games since the All-Star break, taking two of three at home against Toronto and Houston. But the A's fell 7-0 to the Astros on Wednesday.