First-place A's dump slumping O's

OAKLAND, CALIF. - Dallas Braden pitched seven solid innings to win his second consecutive start, Gabe Gross had three hits, and the Oakland Athletics beat the slumping Baltimore Orioles, 4-2, on Friday night.

Cliff Pennington tripled in two runs in the fifth for the A’s, who have won eight straight home games against the Orioles. Andrew Bailey pitched the ninth inning for his first save of the season.

Braden (2-0) struck out four and walked one in his most impressive outing of the season. Five of the left-hander’s 16 career wins have come against Baltimore.

The Orioles fell to 1-10, their worst start since opening the 1988 season with 21 consecutive losses. Meanwhile, the 8-4 A’s are tied for the second-best winning percentage (.667) in the American League and lead the AL West by two games.

Braden, pitching with permanent numbness in his left foot as a result of nerve damage suffered in 2009, retired the first 10 batters he faced before Nick Markakis doubled down the right-field line.

Markakis was stranded, though, when Miguel Tejada fouled out to first baseman Daric Barton and Matt Wieters grounded out.

Braden, a left-hander, was cruising again in the fifth with two outs but issued a four-pitch walk to Garrett Atkins before Ty Wigginton’s home run trimmed Oakland’s lead to 4-2.

Baltimore couldn’t get anything else going. Braden faced only three batters over the minimum in seven innings, getting a 3-6-1 double play on his final pitch.

Brad Ziegler pitched one shutout inning before Bailey, the 2009 AL Rookie of the Year, worked the ninth to complete the game in a tidy 2 hours, 9 minutes.

Oakland jumped on Orioles starter Kevin Millwood early.

Jake Fox hit a sacrifice fly to drive in Kevin Kouzmanoff in the second inning, and the A’s added an unearned run off Millwood (0-2) in the third to make it 2-0.

The A’s added two more runs in the fourth, getting back-to-back singles from Fox and Gross before Pennington’s triple to right.

Millwood finished with nine strikeouts but gave up nine hits in six innings. The right-hander has a respectable 2.89 ERA but is winless in three starts this season.