OAKLAND, Calif. — Road-weary David Phelps finally pitched well away from home. The New York Yankees scored in bunches without the benefit of a home run. And they beat the AL’s best team in a place they had not won in more than two years.
Indeed, things are turning around fast out west.
Phelps tossed two-hit ball into the seventh inning and two relievers were perfect the rest of the way, leading the Yankees past the AL-best Oakland Athletics 7-0 on June 13 for their fourth straight victory.
“It’s definitely one of the best starts of my career,” said Phelps, who struck out four and walked three in 6 2-3 innings.
Phelps (2-4) didn’t allow a hit until Derek Norris’ soft single over the head of third baseman Kelly Johnson with one out in the fifth. Jed Lowrie’s double in the seventh was Oakland’s only other hit.
Dellin Betances recorded four straight outs, and Jose Ramirez pitched a perfect ninth for New York.
Jacoby Ellsbury, Mark Teixeira and Brett Gardner each drove in a run as the Yankees built a 3-0 lead against Sonny Gray (6-3) in the first two innings. New York scored four more in the eighth off Jeff Francis.
Six different Yankees drove in a run, and New York had 12 hits in all. “That’s the recipe for scoring a lot of runs,” Yankees Manager Joe Girardi said.
Coming off a three-game sweep at Seattle, the Yankees kept rolling on the road against the AL West. New York is 5-2 on its nine-game trip and is assured of heading home with a winning mark.
The Yankees pounded an A’s team that began the night leading the majors in run differential by more than double any other team. Oakland had outscored opponents by 130 runs; the next closest club was San Francisco at 59.
Ellsbury extended his hitting streak to 17 games with an RBI single during a two-run first inning. Gardner added an RBI single in the third before Gray found his groove.
Oakland’s young ace retired 13 straight batters, but his teammates never could fluster Phelps — or New York’s bullpen.
“They were aggressive and once we were able to start making pitches down in the zone I got them out. It was just a little too late,” said Gray, who gave up three runs and seven hits in six innings. He struck out seven and walked one.
Ichiro Suzuki drove in two runs, and Brian McCann and Johnson each hit RBI singles to put the Yankees up 7-0 in the eighth.
New York had lost all five of Phelps’ road starts this season, including his last outing at Kansas City, where he allowed seven runs in 5 2-3 innings.
But Phelps pitched a gem in Oakland, a place the Yankees had lost seven in a row. He also snapped a career-high, four-game skid in front of an announced crowd of 36,067 — the fifth sellout in Oakland this season — that had the usual strong sprinkling of Yankees fans to make Phelps feel at home.
“I was attacking guys,” Phelps said. “The last couple starts I was trying to be too fine with my pitches and digging myself in a hole. But tonight, they did a great job scoring early for me and kind of let me settle in a little early.”
(ANTONIO GONZALEZ, AP Sports Writer)