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OAK@BOS: Gray tosses six innings of two-run ball

A's ace Sonny Gray will take the mound in opposition of Washington righty Tanner Roark for an Interleague contest against the Nationals on Saturday evening at the Coliseum.

It will be Gray's first start since being named American League Pitcher of the Month for April, after going 4-1 with a 2.06 ERA and .219 opponents' average in five starts in the month.

"It's about getting guys out and winning games," said Gray. "I have high expectations of myself, and every time I take the mound, it's fun. I love my start day. I look forward to it the whole week."

So do the A's. They're 5-2 this season when Gray starts.

"He goes out and does his thing," said manager Bob Melvin. "The sky is the limit for him. He's come a long way in a short amount of time. He keeps getting better and better."

Gray most recently held the Red Sox to two runs on six hits and two walks with three strikeouts in six innings at Fenway Park, exiting the day with a 1.91 ERA, the second-best mark in the AL.

Dating back to Aug. 31, 2013, the right-hander is 8-2 with a 2.07 ERA spanning 13 starts.

Gray has never faced the Nationals. Similarly, this will be Roark's first time seeing the A's.

"I know they have some power, and I know they have some guys that hit the ball all over the park," said Roark. "Just got to keep your ball down and hit your spots.

"I'm feeling good. Feeling confident."

Roark will be pitching on six days' rest, having last faced the Phillies and struggling, allowing seven runs on as many hits, with one walk and five strikeouts in just four innings. He had not allowed any runs in his previous 15 2/3 innings.

The 27-year-old right-hander has a 4.17 ERA overall. He has made just one other Interleague start in his young career, shutting out the Angels for 7 2/3 innings on April 21.

"This time, I won't be hitting, though. I love to hit," Roark said. "But it's always a challenge when you face a good-hitting team like this, and a good team in general. I like the competition."

Nationals: Williams enjoying return trip to Bay Area
While this might mark Washington's first trip to Oakland, manager Matt Williams knows his way around the Bay Area. Williams started his career in San Francisco in 1987, staying there for 10 seasons.

"It's familiar territory, for sure," Williams said. "I'm excited to be back and excited to be manager of this club. ... We'll be challenged in the next three games, and if we play well, we get a chance. We're going to have to play well to beat them."

Williams also has ties with Oakland's coaching staff. Melvin was his Giants teammate for two seasons, and they also worked together in Arizona.

"He was always a guy that got a lot of respect from his teammates, is all about competition and winning," said Melvin. "He exudes that. We've done quite a few tours together, and a guy that has always had that kind of drive and that winning personality."

A's: Crisp expected to remain out of lineup Saturday
Outfielder Coco Crisp was held out of Friday's series opener, and he is not expected to be available for Saturday's middle matchup, either.

Crisp suffered a neck strain when running into the wall while making a tremendous catch Wednesday, and underwent an MRI on Friday.

Results of the MRI showed "nothing out of the ordinary," Melvin said after the game, "so he's literally day to day."

During Crisp's absence, Craig Gentry will start in center field.

Worth noting
• A's lefty Sean Doolittle has not walked a batter in 17 innings, and has a streak of 29 innings without issuing a walk, dating back to last season. His last walk came Aug. 31, 2013.

• Dating to Aug. 27, 2013, Washington's Rafael Soriano has tossed 25 consecutive scoreless innings, the longest such streak of his career. It's also the longest in the Majors among relievers over that stretch.

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