OAKLAND — A week ago, the first-place New York Yankees came to the West Coast on a roll. They were scoring more than enough runs to support their starters and winning by comfortable margins.
They are headed home to the Bronx in a June skid, emotionally and physically spent from the California heat, long games and losing so many close ones.
Khris Davis hit a go-ahead two-run homer in the third that held up to back rookie Jharel Cotton’s first victory since May 4, and the Oakland Athletics completed a four-game sweep of the slumping Yankees with a 4-3 win Sunday.
“Not very fun,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “They’re not going to be perfect all the time. For the rest of the year these guys are going to be somewhat tired, that’s just the bottom line.”
Davis hit his team-best 18th homer in the third after Chad Pinder tied the game on a two-run double that inning. Davis’ leadoff double in the sixth was wasted.
New York welcomed back flame-throwing closer Aroldis Chapman but still lost its season-high sixth consecutive game following a six-game winning streak, finishing a 1-6 road trip with a weekend dud against the American League’s worst team.
“As long as the feel of the team is still positive and energetic, guys aren’t putting their head down and we’re still having fun and enjoying each other, I think everything will be fine,” Matt Holliday said. “These things happen during a season. You’re going to go through stretches like this. You find out what you’re made of.”
Cotton (4-7) struck out six over 61/3 innings for his second-longest start of the season after going seven innings April 10 at Kansas City. The rookie right-hander, who had been 0-4 over a five-start winless stretch since beating the Twins, gave up six hits and three runs with a walk.
The A’s won their fourth consecutive game, marking the club’s second-longest winning streak of 2017 behind a stretch of five in a row April 18-22. Oakland had gone 26 series without a sweep dating to last Sept. 12-15 at Kansas City.
Holliday hit a towering solo homer in the second that reached the top of the elevated bleachers then Aaron Judge had an RBI single in the third on a scorching Sunday. First-pitch temperature at the Coliseum was 90 degrees — the hottest to start a game since it was 91 degrees on June 20, 2008. The warmest day for baseball ever here was 92.
Chapman came off the disabled list after missing more than a month and pitched a 1-2-3 eighth. New York needs him late in games, and Girardi was determined to use his flame-throwing closer regardless of the situation to immediately get him back in major league action.
Oakland’s Sean Doolittle pitched the ninth for his third save and second in as many games after coming off the DL on June 10.
“Against a team that’s that good, one of the best teams in the American League, to come away with a four-game sweep is really big for us,” said Doolittle, who spent time in the clubhouse to stay cool.
Didi Gregorius homered leading off the fourth for the Yankees, who lost three of the games here by one run. The umpires reviewed the drive to determine whether the ball stayed just inside the right-field foul pole, and their original call of home run was confirmed.