Marcus Semien, Jake Smolinski homers send Oakland Athletics past Cincinnati Reds

By Jeff Wallner, The Sports Xchange  |  June 13, 2016 at 12:35 AM
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CINCINNATI -- There was a sense of relief in the Oakland Athletics' clubhouse after snapping a seven-game losing streak on Sunday.

"It's been miserable going home every night, going through a losing streak like that," manager Bob Melvin said. "You can't even enjoy your evening."

The A's avoided a three-game sweep and what would've been a miserable flight back to Oakland with a 6-1 victory over the Cincinnati Reds on a steamy afternoon at Great American Ball Park.

Marcus Semien and Jake Smolinski each hit a two-run homer, and Danny Valencia added a solo homer in the eighth as Oakland (26-36) collected 15 hits.

"You have to stay positive," Smolinski said. "It's a long season, a lot of things can happen. We just have to even out those tough spots we've been hitting. We just have to stick with it and come out every day ready to play."

Fernando Rodriguez (2-0) pitched two scoreless innings to earn the victory.

Despite Sunday's loss, Cincinnati finished the homestand 5-4 and has won seven of 11 games since snapping an 11-game losing streak on May 28.

Coming off a couple solid starts in which he pitched seven-plus innings, Reds starter John Lamb experienced a setback on Sunday.

The A's had four consecutive hits to begin the second inning, including two-run homers by Semien and Smolinski putting them ahead 4-0.

It was Semien's 12th homer of the season and only the second by Smolinski.

"That's the big inning we've been missing," Semien said. "When you hit home runs, it makes it easy to score runs. We want to get better at manufacturing runs as well to help us blow the game open. Today was a good start."

Lamb surrendered two homers in an inning for the first time in his career.

"I tip my cap to the A's," Lamb said. "They hit some balls pretty hard. Sometimes you make pitches and they get hit hard. Other times you walk to the dugout at the end of the inning and you don't feel like you deserve it. I will move forward with hope and trust."

Billy Butler went 3-for-3 with a double and scored a run for the A's.

Oakland had chance to extend its lead in the third, but Semien hit a hard liner to third baseman Eugenio Suarez who threw to second doubling off Khris Davis to end the inning.

Davis went 2-for-5 with an RBI single in the ninth for Oakland.

Lamb (1-4) allowed four earned runs and seven hits in four innings.

"He missed some locations but it wasn't terrible," said manager Bryan Price. "It was hot and we had a chance to score some runs. We got into their bullpen and that's the strength of their team. We couldn't get anything going against them."

Oakland starter Kendall Graveman pitched out of a base-loaded jam in the fourth, getting Zack Cozart to ground out to end the inning.

The A's right-hander wasn't going to go deep in Sunday's game, however, leaving in the fourth inning with a 4-1 lead after allowing a run on seven hits. He threw 76 pitches.

Graveman is unbeaten in four starts since having a five-game losing streak.

"He was tired," Melvin said. "When came out for the fourth he was tired. I knew he was going to have a short leash with him. Rodriguez was as rested as anyone we had in the bullpen, so we went with him."

The Reds (24-39) hit into three inning-ending double plays on Sunday.

Valencia's solo homer on a 2-2 pitch from A.J. Morris made the score 5-1 in the eighth. It was his fourth homer in 10 games.

The Athletics' bullpen slammed the door on Cincinnati, allowing only a hit over the final four innings and retiring the final 10 batters.

"We want to look past (the losing streak)," Semien said. "What happened, happened. We just want to get back home in front of our home crowd and build some momentum."

NOTES: Oakland expects to recall LHP Eric Surkamp from Triple-A Nashville to start on Tuesday vs. Texas. ... Reds CF Steve Selsky made his first career start on Sunday. ... Oakland LF Khris Davis, who didn't start on Saturday due to a sore left elbow after being hit by a pitch in Friday's game, was back in the lineup on Sunday. ... Oakland's victory on Sunday avoided an eight-game losing streak which would have been its longest since 2012. ... The A's hit two home runs in an inning for the first time since May 17 vs. Texas.

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