Heston Kjerstad hits 3-run homer as Orioles beat Athletics 6-3

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Heston Kjerstad hit a three-run homer, Grayson Rodriguez had eight strikeouts in six innings and the Baltimore Orioles beat the Oakland Athletics 6-3 on Sunday.

Kjerstad’s center field shot put the Orioles ahead 4-0 in the first. Anthony Santander hit his 23rd homer of the season earlier in the inning to start the two-out rally off A’s starter Mitch Spence (5-5). Kjerstad also reached in the third on an error by A’s center fielder JJ Bleday, who dropped a fly ball for an error. Santander scored the Orioles' fifth run on the play.

Kjerstad, who was recalled from Triple-A Norfolk two weeks ago, is batting .295 in 44 at-bats this season.

“He’s given us a boost,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “He’s got that power potential and he’s taking good at-bats.”

Kjerstad said that he's finding a groove with more consistent playing time.

“The more at-bats you can get, the more consecutive days you can play, it helps you get in a rhythm or stay in a rhythm,” Kjerstad said.

Rodriguez (11-3) has won six of his past seven starts. He allowed three runs in six innings, and struck out eight or more for the fifth time this season to lead the club.

The Orioles went 4-2 on a six-game road trip, denying the A’s a winning record this season against one of the best teams in the American League.

Hyde told the team the winning road trip represents “championship baseball” for the 57-33 Orioles.

“Being able to go to the West Coast, it’s not easy,” Rodriguez said. “If we’re able to go 4-2, that great. That’s going to carry us deep into October.”

Oakland still went 4-2 on the homestand, matching its best record on a homestand of six or more games over its past two years.

The A’s scored twice in the sixth on Tyler Soderstrom's RBI double and Shea Langeliers' sacrifice fly. They cut the deficit to 5-3 in the seventh, but Gunnar Henderson drove in an insurance in the ninth for the Orioles with an RBI single.

“The way that our bullpen came in and held it until the ninth, that’s the formula we were successful with earlier in the year,” A's manager Mark Kotsay said. “We believe that we can come back against teams and we showed that today with some good at-bats, especially in the (later innings), which is a good sign.”

Craig Kimbrel earned his 23rd save of the season in front of an announced crowd of 14,524 at the Coliseum.

ALL-STAR SELECTIONS

A’s closer Mason Miller, who leads all rookies with 14 saves, was selected to the All-Star Game on July 16 as the team’s representative. Miller is the first A’s reliever to make an All-Star team since Liam Hendriks in 2019.

“It’s really surreal, and it feels great to just look at the work I’ve done, to sit here and have that recognition now — it’s awesome,” Miller said.

Orioles starter Corbin Burnes made his fourth All-Star team, joining teammates Gunnar Henderson and catcher Adley Rutschman, who were selected as starters. Hyde and several players lamented that the Orioles, who lead the American League in wins, only have three All-Stars.

“When you win as many games as we have in the last year and a half, and you only get three guys in — and you’re on the pace that we are on right now, and won 101 games last year with a lot of the same group, you’d think you’d get more guys in” Hyde said. “I’m disappointed in that.”

TRAINER’S ROOM

Athletics: Left-hander Kyle Muller (left shoulder tendinitis) was reinstated from the 15-day injured list after four rehab appearances. In a corresponding move, the A’s optioned left-hander Jack O’Loughlin to Triple-A Las Vegas.

UP NEXT

Orioles: Right-hander Dean Kremer (4-4, 3.93 ERA) is expected to pitch on Tuesday when the Orioles play the Cubs at home to start a three-game series.

Athletics: Right-hander Joey Estes (3-3) is scheduled to start on Tuesday when the A’s begin a three-game set at the Red Sox.

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