OAKLAND -- After watching Dan Straily dominate the World Series champion Giants for six innings of the A's 4-1 victory Monday, it would be difficult to make any connection with the Dan Straily who couldn't make it out of the fifth inning two starts ago against Texas.

Unless you are Derek Norris, that is. The A's catcher had a heart-to-heart talk with Straily after that May 15 start against the Rangers that can be summed up in four words: "Pound the strike zone."

"When he's passive out there, he gets hit. When he's aggressive, he doesn't get hit," Norris said after Straily allowed four hits and one run to the Giants before the bullpen finished off the A's fourth consecutive victory. "He was shagging in the outfield after that game and we got to talking about that. I told him he has to be aggressive. What you saw today, this is the Dan Straily we all heard about."

Since the chat with Norris, Straily has attacked the strike zone with feverish aplomb in two starts. He has allowed six hits in 13 innings against the Rangers in a rematch last week and the Giants on Memorial Day. He put down two of the best teams in the majors with ease.

On Monday he struck out just one, but for all the contact the Giants' hitters made, they couldn't get a good swing. Buoyed by a fourth-inning two-run home run by Josh Donaldson, Straily retired 14 of the first 15 hitters he faced and gave up a run when the only batter he walked came around to score in the sixth.

"The talk with Dino helped," Straily said. "The (first) Texas game was probably my worst. After that, it was like, 'Enough is enough.' "


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As was the case in the last two months of last season, Straily is stepping up at a time when the A's need him. Opening day starter Brett Anderson (right foot) is on the disabled list, and after that first Texas game, Straily was riding a four-game stretch in which his ERA was 8.84. The turnaround has been dramatic, and it has been part of a stretch in which the A's have gone from losing eight of 10 to winning nine of 10.

Straily didn't do it alone, of course. Donaldson stunned the Giants' Madison Bumgarner with a home run for the A's first hit, a two-run shot thanks to one of five Bumgarner walks. All three outfielders contributed nice catches, and left fielder Yoenis Cespedes chipped in with a two-run double off George Kontos in the seventh.

"That's what we do when we play well, play good defense and get big hits," Straily said. "That's the formula."

The formula has the A's six games over .500 at 29-23 and three games behind the first-place Rangers. On Memorial Day a year ago, the A's were six games into a season-worst nine-game losing streak and were nine games out of first place en route to an eventual June 30 deficit of 13 games.

The A's rallied to take down the Rangers in the final two months of 2012, but this 2013 crop doesn't seem willing to let Texas take easy command of the American League West.

  • Setup man Sean Doolittle, who set down all six Giants he faced, has retired 16 of the past 17 batters he has faced. He pitched two innings Monday, which is unusual for him, because he needed only eight pitches to get through his first inning.

  • Donaldson is hitting .370 with 14 doubles, six homers and 25 RBIs in his past 33 games.

  • Cespedes gave the A's a scare when he did a full somersault in left-center field in pursuit of Brandon Crawford's fly ball in the fifth inning. It fell for a single, which was not a big deal, but Cespedes was uninjured, which is a big deal.

    The A's admire that he has always been aggressive in the outfield, but they occasionally cringe while watching him.

  • Straily, taken in the 24th round of the 2009 draft, had never won in the Coliseum before Monday. He had been 0-2 at home but 4-1 on the road in approximately four months in the big leagues.

    Tuesday's game
    Giants (Michael Kickham 0-0) at A's (Jarrod Parker 2-6), 7:05 p.m. CSNBA, CSNCA
    Online extra
    To view a photo gallery from the A's-Giants game, go to http://photos.mercurynews.com.