CHICAGO -- A two-run eighth-inning rally, highlighted by Yonder Alonso's go-ahead RBI single, sparked the A's to a 5-3 comeback victory, secured a series sweep and handed the White Sox their sixth loss in their last seven games on Sunday at Guaranteed Rate Field.Trailing 2-1 in the eighth with White
CHICAGO -- A two-run eighth-inning rally, highlighted by Yonder Alonso's go-ahead RBI single, sparked the A's to a 5-3 comeback victory, secured a series sweep and handed the White Sox their sixth loss in their last seven games on Sunday at Guaranteed Rate Field.
Trailing 2-1 in the eighth with White Sox setup man Tommy Kahnle in the game, the A's finally managed to get a rally going as Franklin Barreto singled and Ryon Healy reached on Matt Davidson's error. Khris Davis pushed across the tying run on a sharp single to right, followed by Alonso's lofted fly ball off closer Player Page for David Robertson that fell in to give Oakland the lead. The ball, which was just out of the reach of White Sox left fielder Melky Cabrera, had a hit probability of just two percent according to Statcast™.
"Last couple games, we get on the board early, and whenever you do that you have some momentum, some confidence," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "When you get behind, and we were basically stagnant for a good portion of the game today, not even getting good at-bats, let alone opportunities, then all of a sudden they came and we kept fighting back. From the sixth inning on, the at-bats were completely different."
It marked the first time this season the White Sox had lost in the 29 games they've led after seven innings. White Sox manager Rick Renteria said he didn't expect Cabrera -- who was shifted to pull against the left-handed Alonso -- to have much of a chance at the ball off the crack of the bat.
"He was actually playing a little more to the pull side than he was to the line," Renteria said. "I don't think he was going to be able to get to it, regardless of the effort he might have given us."
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A's right-hander Sonny Gray matched Derek Holland for much of the afternoon, allowing a pair of runs (one earned) in seven innings of work to keep things close while striking out seven on 101 pitches. Gray's lone mistake came in the third, as White Sox rookie center fielder Adam Engel uncorked on a 91.6 mph center-cut fastball and shot it into the left field bleachers for his first career homer to make it 1-0. Sean Doolittle and Santiago Casilla combined to hold the lead in the eighth and ninth, giving Gray his third win of the season.
For the A's, it marked their first road series sweep of the season, as they improved to 12-25 away from the Coliseum.
"It's no secret we struggle on the road," Gray said. "We're aware of it. We really put together three solid games here. We got big hits when we needed to, our starting pitching was really good, and our bullpen was really good. Hopefully that's something we can continue to do."
Holland, despite entering Sunday with a 12.64 June ERA, earned his team-leading second quality start this month and kept the A's bats in check for the first time all series. Holland went six-plus innings, allowing one run on just four hits while striking out six on a season-high 112 pitches. Holland's start saved a pitching staff that has struggled to provide length and quality from its rotation, with the group having a 5.88 ERA and just six quality starts during its last 31 games entering Sunday. While the White Sox still sit last in the American League with 26 quality starts, Holland was at least able resettle himself after a rough month.
"I think I've done a pretty good job of getting those quality starts as much as I can, but I've got to go longer," Holland said. "I should be able to get into the seventh and not have 110 pitches or whatnot. I need to go out there and go longer. It's all about getting those quality starts."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Got a better jump: The White Sox looked to be threatening in the first inning, as second baseman Alen Hanson led off the game with a double to right. Then with Hansen at third with one out and Jose Abreu at bat, Hanson attempted to swipe a run on a wild pitch from Gray. A's catcher Josh Phegley got the ball to Gray in time for the out. In the fourth inning, the White Sox executed, taking advantage of Phegley's passed ball as Abreu scored from third to make it 2-0.
"It was huge. That was really big," Gray said. "One out, a runner on third, you really don't draw it up like that. But it was huge for me going forward in that game. Any way possible, to not let that run score in the first, and when I saw the pitch kind of get away, I immediately thought, just get to home and hopefully something will happen, and we kind of just turned a bad play into a good play."
Insurance: A's shortstop Adam Rosales appeared to be in position to tie the game in the seventh on Jed Lowrie's pinch-hit double, but was held up rounding third base. After Oakland took the lead in the eighth, Rosales made sure there was no doubt he was scoring in the ninth with a Statcast-projected 387-foot shot off Robertson in the ninth. Matt Joyce followed with a Statcast-projected 422-foot shot off Chris Beck, giving Oakland back-to-back homers for the fourth time this season and a 5-2 cushion. With an exit velocity of 106.6 mph, Joyce's homer was tied for his hardest-hit this season and his fourth-hardest hit ball since Statcast™ was introduced in 2015.
"It was a pretty cool feeling. I was able to get ahead in the count there and the guys ahead of me worked some deep counts and you know did some work early for me. I got a fastball up in the zone -- I was ahead in the count. I was able to see it, kind of looking for it and put a good swing on it. I actually had some friends and family in town so hitting it is just one of those things where you just kind of smile, and you are happy that your friends and family are here to watch it." -- Engel, on his first career homer
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Rosales was quick to celebrate his home run, scooting around the bases in 15.88 seconds -- beating his own previous mark of 15.90 seconds for the fastest home run trot in the Majors since Statcast™ was introduced.
"What? I didn't think I was going as fast," Rosales said. "I'm not thinking about it, I'm just running." More >
ON THE MEND
Trailing 5-2 with one out in the ninth inning, Beck took a line drive to the back of the his left leg from Davis -- a ball with an exit velocity of 101.9 mph, according to Statcast™ -- which would go as an infield single. Beck got medical attention from White Sox trainers before departing and being replaced by Gregory Infante due to injury. The White Sox announced Beck is day-to-day with a bruised left hamstring.
A's: Following an off-day Monday, the A's will be back in action in Houston, with lefty Sean Manaea scheduled to start Tuesday's 5:10 p.m. PT opener at Minute Maid Park. Manaea took his first loss since May 15 on Wednesday, allowing three runs in six innings against the Astros in a home start.
White Sox:David Holmberg (1-1, 2.84) will take the mound Monday night as the White Sox open a four-game set against the Yankees in the middle of a 10-game homestand. Holmberg, who has bounced between the rotation and bullpen this season, saw action in both facets this week and has a 3.98 ERA as a start this season. First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. CT.
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Fabian Ardaya is a reporter for MLB.com based in Chicago.
Jane Lee has covered the A's for MLB.com since 2010.