PITTSBURGH — The Oakland Athletics have been playing baseball for nearly 120 years. No catcher in team history has ever put together a game quite like the one Josh Phegley did in a 14-1 romp over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Friday.
Five at-bats. Four hits. Two doubles. A single. All capped off by a long solo shot to left field in the ninth that served as the finishing touch on an eight-RBI performance as the A's emphatically snapped a six-game losing streak.
Phegley's eight RBIs set a single-game record for an Oakland catcher and marked the first time any A's player reached eight in a game Eric Chavez did it on Aug. 30, 2001, against Baltimore.
"Really fun baseball," Phegley said after his season RBI total jumped from 13 to 21. "I feel like you can't do something like that if the guys in front of you aren't getting on base. I've had games where I've had three, four hits but never with that many guys on. The timing was good. We needed a win and everyone pretty much exploded offensively."
Oakland set season highs in both runs and hits (16) to win for just the fifth time in 18 games away from O.Co Coliseum and nearly match its entire 15-run total during a skid the dropped the A's to last in the American League West. Even pitcher Brett Anderson (4-2) got in on the act. He singled twice in addition to allowing just one run in six innings to pick up his first victory since April 9.
"Running bases is still terrifying," Anderson said. "Especially the first one when I had to go to second. I blacked out basically. But I'll take the two hits."
The A's certainly needed them. Oakland came in hitting just .205 over their last 14 games to extend their wildly uneven start before jumping on Pittsburgh's Joe Musgrove (1-3) early and then continuing to add on against four relievers.
"I feel like everyone was firing and that's kind of what we're used to and what we expect out of ourselves," Phegley said.
Pittsburgh rookie left fielder Bryan Reynolds singled to extend his hitting streak to 10 games, the second-longest by a Pirate to start his career since 1901, trailing only an 11-game streak by Gregory Polanco in 2014. It wasn't nearly enough on a night the A's used a rare visit to Pittsburgh to end a seven-game road losing streak.
Musgrove hadn't allowed more than three runs in any of his first five starts — all of which lasted at least six innings — but didn't make it out of the third. Some sloppy defense behind him didn't help. Pirates third baseman Jung Ho Kang had a pair of errors during a four-run outburst in the second highlighted by Phegley's three-run double. Oakland tacked on two more in the third, with Musgrove exiting after walking in a run that pushed Oakland's advantage to 7-2.
"We did not play good defense," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "That's all I got. At the end of the day, we didn't handle the ball really well."
Musgrove was charged with five earned runs on six hits over 2 2/3 innings as his ERA jumped from 1.54 to 2.63. Reliever Nick Kingham fared no better, allowing four runs in 2 1/3, three of the runs coming home on a rope to the left-field wall by Phegley in the fourth that pushed his RBI total to seven.
Phegley wasn't done. He sent Richard Rodriguez's pitch to the deserted bleachers in left field in the ninth for his fourth home run to become the first Pittsburgh opponent to knock in eight runs against the Pirates since Ken Reitz did it for the St. Louis Cardinals on June 28, 1977.
Asked what could be done to neutralize Phegley, Musgrove shrugged.
"Not much," Musgrove said. "He hit good pitches. He had a good night tonight. He saw everyone pretty well, swung the bat well. I don't think there's anything we need to do different or need to panic."
Oakland outfield prospect Skye Bolt made his major league debut in the seventh when he popped out to first as a pinch hitter. He remained in the game in center field and later struck out in the ninth. The fourth-round pick in the 2015 draft — named by his father Mike because the elder Bolt wanted to give his son a name that "popped" — joined the A's after hitting .325 with six home runs for Triple-A Las Vegas.
Pirates: C Jose Osuna (neck) was recalled from his rehabilitation assignment, reinstated from the 10-day injured list and assigned to Triple-A Indianapolis. ...
A's: Chris Bassitt (1-0, 0.75 ERA) has allowed one run over 12 innings in his first two starts.
Pirates: Trevor Williams (1-1, 3.38) takes the mound Saturday looking to rebound after giving up five in six innings in a no decision against the Dodgers last weekend.