Gray strikes out 7, Blackmon stays hot

Gray strikes out 7, Blackmon stays hot

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Using his rising fastball and full complement of secondary pitches, Rockies righty Jon Gray stifled a representative Athletics lineup to the tune of seven strikeouts in five one-run innings of a 9-2 victory Sunday at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick.

Gray, a favorite to start the April 3 opener at Milwaukee, usually finagles confrontations so his slider can be the put-away pitch. But Sunday, he used a curve to freeze Josh Phegley to end the second and had Jed Lowrie flailing at a diving changeup in the third.

The Athletics managed just two hits all day, both off Gray, including a Mark Canha double that was followed by Adam Rosales' RBI single.

Gray, Black on start vs. A's

"Last year, it was pound the zone, and get to the slider to put them away, but right now there's so much more going on," said Gray, who was disappointed over walking three in a six-strikeout performance against the Athletics on Tuesday but made up with one walk Sunday. "It's more pitching, and I love it. I think it's smart." 

A's starter Jesse Hahn, who had been pitching well in his bid for a rotation job, was roughed up for seven runs in just 3 1/3 innings. The right-hander walked two and allowed eight hits, including a Charlie Blackmon solo homer that prompted his exit in the fourth. Hahn threw just 37 of his 62 pitches for strikes.

"It kind of got out of hand there," Hahn said. "I think I was just up a little bit today. I didn't execute pitches like I wanted to. I got myself into some counts where predictable fastballs were coming, and I think if I could have executed those down, it would have been a different story, but I didn't. I left them up a little bit."  

Blackmon's solo home run

Blackmon also added a two-run triple off Hahn. Alexi Amarista -- who entered hitting .138 -- went 3-for-3 with two RBIs, and Gerardo Parra and utility job pursuant Pat Valaika added two hits apiece.

• Parra walking back into shape

Rockies reliever Adam Ottavino, who struggled with his slider in his last two outings, gave up an unearned run but no hits while fanning two in his inning, and Mike Dunn struck out one in a perfect inning, and has pitched seven hitless innings with nine strikeouts this spring.

The A's Liam Hendriks pitched a scoreless inning, giving up no hits, and Daniel Coulombe struck out two in two innings of scoreless relief.

Athletics Up Next: The A's will be under the lights Monday, with the schedule calling for a 7:05 p.m. PT matchup with the visiting D-backs at Hohokam Stadium. Left-hander Sean Manaea gets the start, with relievers Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson also scheduled to pitch in the game.

Rockies Up Next: Lefty Tyler Anderson, who has almost as many strikeouts (nine) as hits allowed 10, will face the Cubs and righty Kyle Hendricks at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick on Monday at 2:10 p.m. MT live on MLB.TV. Also, rotation competitor German Marquez will be pitching in a Minor League game (five innings or 75 pitches).

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Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, listen to podcasts and like his Facebook page. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.