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Braves edge slumping A's
Atlanta, GA (SportsNetwork.com) - Chris Johnson went 3-for-4 with a pair of RBI as the Atlanta Braves handed the suddenly slumping Oakland Athletics a fourth straight loss, a 4-3 setback at Turner Field.
Andrelton Simmons added two hits, including an RBI single, while Freddie Freeman continued his hot hitting by lacing a run-scoring double to support six effective innings from Julio Teheran.
Teheran (11-9) yielded just four hits, one a two-run homer from Stephen Vogt, and three walks to end a three-start losing streak and help the Braves post consecutive victories for the first time since taking three straight from San Diego on July 26-28.
Atlanta had dropped 12 of 16 prior to Friday's 7-2 triumph in the opener of this three-game series.
"We've been swinging the bat well, pitching's been good," said Freeman. "Got to keep going out there and keep going tomorrow and hopefully we can complete the sweep."
John Jaso had a solo homer for the A's, but Sonny Gray struggled over 5 1/3 innings in losing his fourth straight start. The young right-hander was tagged for four runs on eight hits.
With Saturday's setback, Oakland's sixth in seven games, the A's had 106-day stay of sole possession of first place in the AL West. Oakland is now percentage points behind Anaheim for the top spot after the Angels downed Texas on Saturday.
"I think anything can go against us right now," said Gray (12-7), who was tagged for four runs on eight hits. "We have to get out of it a little bit."
Gray's problems began right away, as Phil Gosselin singled with one out in the bottom of the first and Freeman followed with a hard smash down the right- field line that resulted in a run-scoring double. Two batters later, Johnson made it a 2-0 Atlanta lead with a bloop single that plated Freeman from second.
Gray briefly bounced back by retiring the next seven Atlanta hitters, but served up back-to-back singles to Justin Upton and Johnson to start the bottom of the fourth that put runners at the corners. After Evan Gattis struck out, Simmons dropped in a base hit to left to bring in Upton for a 3-0 advantage.
"I thought I threw the ball well," Gray said. "[The Braves] got a lot of bloop hits and the one big hit when they needed to."
Teheran, on the other hand, survived a couple of early close calls to keep the A's scoreless over the first five innings. Jaso just missed a home run on a deep foul ball to right in the opening frame, and Oakland couldn't capitalize on Eric Sogard's leadoff double in the third.
Gray successfully sacrificed Sogard to third, but Coco Crisp popped a bunt attempt back to the mound before Jaso was set down on a grounder.
"He does that every time he goes out there. He gives us a chance to win," said Freeman of Teheran.
Oakland finally broke through in the top of the sixth when Brandon Moss walked in front of Vogt's wall-clearing blast to center that trimmed the A's deficit to 3-2.
Atlanta answered in its half of the sixth, though, as deep single by Johnson enabled Upton to race home from first after drawing a walk.
That run proved vital, as Jaso hammered a Jordan Walden fastball over the center-field fence with one down in the eighth to send Oakland back within one.
Josh Reddick nearly tied the game for the A's in the ninth, driving a Craig Kimbrel pitch to the warning track in left that was hauled in by Upton for the first out. Kimbrel then got two of the next three hitters to seal the win and notch his 36th save.
Freeman is now 17-for-36 with eight RBI over his last 10 games ... The A's were held to three runs or less for the 13th time in their last 17 tilts ... Atlanta finished 4-for-10 with runners in scoring position ... Both teams donned replica throwback uniforms to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the 1914 World Series matchup between the franchises, which the then-Boston Braves won over the Philadelphia A's in a four-game sweep.
08/17 00:25:59 ET