CLEVELAND -- You can credit the Coliseum for the A's knowing how to hit on chilly nights. Playing in Oakland will do that for a team.
Even so, the A's surprised themselves with Friday's 11-1 win over Cleveland, with the wind off Lake Erie making the evening even cooler than the listed 49 degrees. Oakland mashed four home runs, and two of them weren't the kind to thrive on cold nights.
Josh Donaldson capped an eight-run second inning with a monster three-run shot that carried to the entrance deep behind the left field wall.
"That was impressive,'' right fielder Josh Reddick said. "If it wasn't as chilly as it was tonight, I think that one goes completely out of the park and not just to the entrance gate.''
Reddick's grand slam earlier in the second inning broke the game open and pointed starting pitcher Sonny Gray in the direction of his fifth win. But it was Reddick's second homer, a two-run rocket to right in the seventh inning when the temperature had dropped another fistful of degrees, that most impressed manager Bob Melvin.
"The first one opens up the game and puts some runs on the board,'' Melvin said. "The second one was one of the more aggressive swings I've seen him have in a while.
"You are out there for six or seven innings and it's starting to get really cold, and for him to put that aggressive a swing on a ball that was up in the zone was pretty impressive.''
Jed Lowrie also went deep as the A's won for the seventh time in eight games to improve to an American League West-best 26-16. They are 10 games over .500 for the second time this season.
Donaldson's homer was the most talked about in the clubhouse after the game. Lowrie said, "That one would have gone really, really far'' on a warmer night, and Melvin said, "Even Josh was enamored of that one.''
Donaldson was in a 1-2 hole against Cleveland starter Zach McAllister before working the count full and getting a pitch he could cream.
"That's probably one of the best for me as far as I've hit it,'' Donaldson said. "It was warm the last three or four days in Oakland, and to come here and it's so cold we had to adjust.''
Reddick is adjusting to being dropped lower in the batting order. The A's homer leader in 2012 with 32, he's in a position now where he's trying to get his game back together offensively.
"Right now RBIs are more important for me (than homers) if I'm batting in the eight hole,'' Reddick said. He came into the game with just two homers and 12 RBIs. "Six-RBI games aren't going to happen that often for guys hitting eighth. I'm just trying to get good swings when I have runners in scoring position.''
He had only one of those at-bats Friday, but he made the most of it with his first homer, a laser out to right that snapped a 1-1 tie in the second inning. With Lowrie having tied the game with an RBI single earlier and with Donaldson adding his three-run bomb later, that made for the most explosive inning yet this season for Oakland.
The eight-run inning caused a little bit of trouble for Gray, who had to throw during the inning a bit just to get loose and keep the chill away. It was a small price to pay.
"I would take innings like that every inning,'' Gray said. "Especially on a cold night.''
Gray wound up pitching just six innings and throwing 90 pitches before Fernando Rodriguez and Jim Johnson cleaned up the final three innings. Before he was done, however, Gray had matched his season- and career-best with nine strikeouts, had only allowed two hits and lowered his ERA to 2.10, third-best in the American League.
And he remains the only A's pitcher to have thrown six or more innings allowing three or fewer runs in his first nine starts dating back to at least 1914, an entire century. Not bad for a pitcher who said he didn't really feel good on the mound until later in the game.
A's (Scott Kazmir 5-1)
at Cleveland (Josh Tomlin 2-0), 4:05 p.m. CSNCA