A's complete sweep with another shutout

A's complete sweep with another shutout

OAKLAND -- Creators of the famed Moneyball theory, the A's showed they can win by using small ball, too.

Behind a pair of key sacrifice bunts, Oakland beat the Giants, 3-0, on Sunday to complete a three-game sweep of their cross-Bay rivals.

"That's what it's about," said Oakland outfielder Rajai Davis. "You got to do what you can -- whatever it is -- to score runs."

  • 134 wins
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Each of the A's initial two runs on Sunday was made possible by a successful sacrifice bunt.

The first, laid down by Mark Ellis, set the table for Jake Fox's RBI double in the bottom of the seventh, which broke a scoreless tie. The second, laid down by Daric Barton in the eighth, allowed Kurt Suzuki to drive in Davis with a solid single to center.

The two runs were more than enough for the Oakland bullpen, who followed Ben Sheets' six-inning effort for a three-hit shutout. In fact, those two runs were enough to outscore the Giants for the entire series. San Francisco was held scoreless for its final 20 innings of the three-game set and scored just one run all weekend.

"We've got that type of pitching staff that can do that," Sheets said. "We've been doing that for a majority of the year. We just got to stay with it."

Sheets tied his season high with eight strikeouts while allowing two hits and two walks. Ever since his consecutive poor starts on April 27 and May 2, Sheets has looked like the pitcher the A's were hoping to get when they inked him to a one-year $10-million deal this offseason.

Over four starts in that span, Sheets is 1-0 with a 2.52 ERA. In those 25 innings of work, he's allowed 17 hits and 12 walks while striking out 29.

"I feel a lot better from start to start," said Sheets, who missed all of last year after having elbow surgery. "When I look back at month-to-month I can really tell a big difference. I'm starting to settle in and it feels good."

Though Sheets strung together four good starts to begin the season, he said he's pitched much better during his current stretch of quality starts.

"There was always a battle [at the beginning of the season]," Sheets said. "Everything was ridiculously tough and harder than it might have or should have been. This feels more like something that I feel like I'm used to."

If it weren't for a stellar defensive play by Ellis, the shutout wouldn't have been possible.

With two outs in the fourth and runners on first and third, Juan Uribe drilled a ball over Ellis' head. The 5-foot-11 second baseman leaped and made a great snowcone catch to end the inning and keep a run off the board.

"Every now and then you get lucky," Ellis said. "The momentum of the ball probably carried me higher."

During his high school basketball days, Ellis said he never dunked in a game. He said he has thrown down a couple of slam dunks during practice, though.

Uribe was also involved in another episode in the top of the seventh, one that resulted in the ejection of A's manager Bob Geren.

Uribe foul-tipped a 1-2 pitch into Suzuki's glove, but not before the ball hit the dirt, according to first-base umpire Greg Gibson. Geren, upset with Gibson's call, argued with Gibson for about a minute before getting tossed from the game.

"They don't obviously get the opportunity to see it over again," Geren said. "It happens quickly. I didn't like the call, we disagreed. I was watching the past two games on TV."

Geren trotted out a new-look lineup for Sunday's game, giving starting outfielders Ryan Sweeney and Coco Crisp the days off. Geren said Sweeney sat solely for rest reasons, but that Crisp is battling a strain underneath his pectoral muscle. The team is hopeful Crisp can return for Tuesday's game at Baltimore.

Davis took over for Crisp in center field while Gabe Gross occupied Sweeney's post in right. Adam Rosales proved his worth as a utility player once again, making his first career start in left field -- the fifth position he has played this season.

Originally, Rosales was to start at shortstop for Cliff Pennington. After Crisp was deemed unfit for action, though, Rosales was inserted into left. He said he didn't know he was playing left until about an hour before game time.

Rosales' only left field experience consisted of two games in Double-A and two months of winter ball in Mexico this past offsesason. Still, Geren said a team official saw Rosales play left field in winter ball and was confident he could handle the task.

"It feels like he can play anywhere, it really does," Geren said. "He's probably never caught, but it almost feels like he can do that. He's such a baseball player."

Sweeney completed the game's scoring by driving in Suzuki with an RBI single to left in the eighth. Andrew Bailey pitched a perfect ninth to earn his eighth save and secure Oakland's first three-game sweep of the year.

"To be able to take all three was huge," Sheets said. "Sometimes whenever you take the first two and give back that last one, it kind of feels like it nullifies the first two games."

Alex Espinoza is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.