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Cardinals lock up Athletics in series opener behind Sonny Gray

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Cardinals lock up Athletics in series opener behind Sonny Gray

OAKLAND — Sonny Gray returned to where it all started Monday night and for one night anyway, put his former team in its place.

The St. Louis Cardinals beat the A’s 3-1 at the Coliseum, with Gray getting the 100th win of his major league career.

The A’s loss came before an announced crowd of 5,508, much of it wearing Cardinals red, and cooled off a team that came in having won three consecutive series for the first time since 2021.

Esteury Ruiz gave the A’s and manager Mark Kotsay and general manager David Forst something to think about in the eighth inning, hitting a 406-foot pinch homer off JoJo Romero to break up the shutout. Ruiz was activated just before game time to replace third baseman J.D. Davis, who went on the injured list with an abductor strain.

Shipped to to Triple-A after a 3-for-7 start, Ruiz hit an 0-1 pitch deep into the left field seats at 106.1 miles per hour. He was pinch-hitting against the left-handed Romero in place of Lawrence Butler.

Ruiz has been wearing out the ball since his demotion, adding power to the speed which produced an American League-leading 67 steals as a rookie last season.

The Cardinals improved to 8-9, with the A’s falling to 7-10.

All players in the game wore No. 42 in honor of Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier on April 15, 1947.

Gray, a fan favorite in Oakland from 2013 through 2017 with a sharp fastball and a crackling breaking ball that belied his 5-foot-10, 190 pound frame, has grown up as a pitcher and he was at his efficient best against his former team.

In six innings, Gray, 34, mixed his pitches beautifully and threw nearly 70 percent strikes (50 of 72) with no walks and six strikeouts. He gave up four hits with only one A’s runner reaching third base. After throwing five shutout innings in his first start, Gray is 2-0 and unscored on in 11 innings.

Stripling left with two out in the sixth, not pitching all that badly but trailing 2-0 with two runners aboard. Jordan Walker singled to right to drive in a third run — charged to Stripling — and St. Louis had given Gray a three-run cushion in the top of the sixth.

Andrew Kittredge, Romero and Ryan Helsley finished up for the Cardinals, with Helsley getting his sixth save.

Stripling threw 101 pitches, 67 of them strikes, with two walks and four strikeouts. His record fell to 0-4.

The sixth opened with a Lars Nootbaar double against Stripling, and when Nolan Arenado flied deep to left — he seemed unable to believe the ball didn’t go out — Nootbaar tagged up and went to third.

Willson Contreras then grounded a double down the left field line to score Nootbaar. Stripling goto Nolan Gorman on a grounder, but was removed after a walk to Masyn Winn, bringing in Michael Kelly. Walker’s single against Kelly drove in the second run.

The Cardinals scored in the first against Stripling on a run-scoring single by Arenado.

 

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