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Gray looks sharp in Triple-A rehab start

A's righty pitches six scoreless innings for Sounds
Special to MLB.com

NASHVILLE -- For the second time in his professional career on Thursday night, Athletics right-hander Sonny Gray started for the Triple-A Nashville Sounds.

The Smyrna native and former Vanderbilt standout earned the 9-2 win against the New Orleans Baby Cakes, pitching six innings, allowing two hits and no runs, while striking out seven on Throwback Thursday at First Tennessee Park.

NASHVILLE -- For the second time in his professional career on Thursday night, Athletics right-hander Sonny Gray started for the Triple-A Nashville Sounds.

The Smyrna native and former Vanderbilt standout earned the 9-2 win against the New Orleans Baby Cakes, pitching six innings, allowing two hits and no runs, while striking out seven on Throwback Thursday at First Tennessee Park.

Gray enjoyed coming to Sounds games growing up.   

"I felt great and it was really exciting to come home and make a start here," Gray said. "I grew up coming to Sounds games as a kid, and ironically these are the [1978] jerseys they wore so it was cool to kind of come full circle."

This was Gray's second rehab start as he looks to come back from a right lat strain injury he sustained in a Spring Training start on March 7.

Gray did not allow a hit until the third inning. He displayed good command of the strike zone, throwing 77 pitches (54 strikes) while not issuing a walk.

"He threw great, he was spotting the ball, had a really good changeup and he had everything pretty much working," Sounds pitching coach Rick Rodriguez said. "He just wanted to get out there and pitch to hitters, put away pitches when he had the chance to and spot his fastball to both sides of the plate."

The only trouble the righty faced was allowing back-to-back hits with two outs in the third, but he got out of the jam, forcing Brandon Barnes to ground out to end the inning.

Nashville gave Gray plenty of run support, hitting three home runs and scoring seven runs in the sixth to pull away from New Orleans.

Gray is looking to bounce back this year after an injury-plagued 2016 season during which he finished 5-11 with a 5.69 ERA in 22 starts. The 27-year-old is on pace to pitch for the A's in their upcoming road series in Minnesota.

"It was really exciting to come home and make a start here," Gray said. "But at the same time the whole goal is to get here, feel good and get back to Oakland as soon as possible and I think I took a step in the right direction."

Kyle Lumsden is a contributor to MLB.com.