- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 29, 2014

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) - Sonny Gray came off the mound and into the Oakland dugout after the eighth inning purposely trying to avoid contact with manager Bob Melvin.

Gray, clearly the best pitcher on this night in a matchup against Rangers ace Yu Darvish, wanted to finish what he started.

“I normally talk to him, share a laugh, make something up,” Gray said. “I put my head down and he goes, ‘How are you feeling?’ I just yelled ‘Great!” and kept walking. … Yeah, I wanted to go back out there.”

The right-hander did pitch the ninth, wrapping up a three-hitter for his first career complete game as the Athletics beat Texas 4-0 Monday night in Darvish’s shortest outing in the major leagues.

Gray (4-1) allowed only three singles while striking out six. He threw 73 of 108 pitches for strikes in his 16th career start.

“I felt like telling him he better getting it done under 110 (pitches), but that’s probably the wrong thing to tell a guy when he goes out for the ninth,” Melvin said with a smile. “Usually he looks at me and has a conversation with me when he’s coming in and he didn’t even look at me after the eighth.”

Texas got only one runner to third base against the 24-year-old Gray, who threw two wild pitches in the sixth after Robinson Chirinos singled.

Darvish (1-1) was gone after 3 1-3 innings, pulled after walking No. 9 batter Eric Sogard for the second time. Those were the only two walks for the right-hander, who allowed four runs and six hits while throwing 83 pitches (45 strikes). Darvish is winless his last nine home starts.

“The first few innings I thought he mixed (pitches) pretty good,” Texas manager Ron Washington said. “I thought he tried to throw everything at them. … They found a way to put balls in play. They found a way to score runs.”

Josh Donaldson had a two-run single in the third, and the A’s made it 4-0 an inning later when Josh Reddick had an RBI triple and came home on Daric Barton’s sacrifice fly.

Oakland and Texas entered tied for the AL West lead and the league’s best record at 15-10. The Rangers, shut out for the first time this season, had swept a three-game series in Oakland last week.

Gray walked Rangers leadoff hitter Michael Choice, but got out of the first with a fielder’s choice grounder and a 4-5-3 double play with three Oakland infielders shifted to right side against Prince Fielder.

“The first couple of hitters it looked like what he usually does in the first where from time to time,” Melvin said. “After that it was as well of a pitched game as I’ve seen in a while.”

Choice grounded into an inning-ending double play in the third after the bottom two batters reached base.

Darvish made his 66th start for Texas since signing from Japan before the 2012 season. His shortest previous MLB outing had been four innings at Seattle his rookie season, though he went only 1 1-3 innings in Japan start in 2006.

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