ARLINGTON, Texas -- Whatever doubt there was about naming Sonny Gray the A's ace in his first full season in the major leagues was erased Monday in his 4-0 win over Texas.
Matched up against the Rangers' top starter, Yu Darvish, Gray was completely the master of ceremonies, doling out just three hits and one walk.
"That was the toughest shutout I've ever caught," catcher John Jaso said. "After the game, it was cool. But his pitches were moving all over the place. He was making up pitches out there."
Jaso and manager Bob Melvin marveled at the sliders Gray threw, mostly because he doesn't throw one.
"I did throw a handful of sliders," Gray said, breaking into a grin. "It was a nice weapon."
The Rangers didn't think so. This is a team that's built to hit playing in a ballpark built for hitters. And Texas got three lousy singles off Gray, one of which should have been ruled an error. Only five visiting pitchers have thrown a shutout of three hits or fewer in what is now known as Globe Life Park.
"That's something when you think of all the great pitchers who have thrown here," Gray said. "This park or any park, that's tough to do, throw nine innings like that."
While pitching the A's back into first place, Gray improved his record to 4-1 with a 1.76 ERA. He needed 108 pitches to do it, exactly the same number of pitches he threw in seven innings against the Rangers in a 3-0 loss last week at the Coliseum.
Gray was good then. He was brilliant Monday, even when he uncorked a couple of wild pitches and hit a batter.
"The ball was coming in all over the place," Jaso said. "It was 95 (mph), 93. He threw a ball behind (Elvis) Andrus, not on purpose, but just because the ball popped out. When that happens, the pitch is usually 76. This one was 95."
Gray said "it was so fun" and credited his sinker and the A's defense for much of the success. He credited a first-inning double play for getting him out of an early jam. He walked leadoff hitter Michael Choice but after the double play didn't walk anyone else.
Josh Reddick, who had three hits, said watching Gray was a lesson in how to pitch against quality.
"To do it against one of the top competitors (Darvish) in the league," Reddick said. "To do it in this park and to do it against that lineup. That's tough to do."
With the return of veteran Matt Harrison from the disabled list, the Rangers gave Darvish the opportunity to pick his next foe -- Seattle on Sunday or Oakland on Monday with Harrison getting the other. Darvish chose Oakland, a team with a six-game winning streak against him.
Make that seven. The A's scored twice in the third, then twice more in the fourth in knocking Darvish out of the game.
Rangers manager Ron Washington suggested that the A's discipline once again caught up with Darvish, who likes to have hitters chase pitches out of the strike zone.
"They know what they want to hit, and they wait on it," Washington said.