Oakland A's MLN: Zobrist, Doolittle Progress

The Oakland A's have been hit hard by injury this season, but two of their injured stars -- Ben Zobrist and Sean Doolittle -- made positive progress towards a return on Friday.

Sounds Ride Neal, Zobrist, Doolittle to Win

Three new faces helped the Nashville Sounds take a 7-2 win over the Fresno Grizzlies on Friday. Zach Neal, up from Double-A Midland to make a start in Kendall Graveman's spot, fired 5.2 innings of one-hit ball. He was charged with two runs (one earned), although both runs scored after he left the game. Neal struck-out three and walked three. All three walks were issued to top Astros prospect Carlos Correa.

Pat Venditte relieved Neal in the sixth, finishing that inning and then working the seventh. He gave way to rehabbing A's closer Sean Doolittle in the eighth. Doolittle had his best rehab outing yet, working a one-two-three inning against the heart of the Fresno order. Doolittle got Alex Presley to strike-out looking, induced a fly-out to right from Correa and then struck-out Jon Singleton swinging to end the inning. R.J. Alvarez worked a one-two-three ninth to close out the game. He struck-out two.

Rehabbing A's utilityman Ben Zobrist made his first start for Nashville after a couple of outings with Stockton. Zobrist did have a fielding error in left, but he had an excellent day at the plate. He collected two singles, a walk and two RBI. He scored twice.

Jason Pridie had three hits and three RBI, while Ryan Roberts finished a homer short of the cycle in a three-hit night. Anthony Aliotti and Joey Wendle also had two-hit games. Nashville's offense broke out to the tune of seven runs on 15 hits in the win.

Before the game, the A's purchased the contract of shortstop Andy Parrino and placed reliever Edward Mujica on the disabled list. Oakland also recalled injured infielder Tyler Ladendorf and placed him on the ML 60-day DL. The A's will add Kendall Graveman to their roster on Saturday. He will make the start for the A's against Tampa Bay.

Ports, Trivino Blank Storm

Lou Trivino threw seven shut-out innings to pace the Stockton Ports' 8-0 rout over the Lake Elsinore Storm. Trivino scattered three hits and a walk over seven frames. He struck-out three. He lowered his ERA from 5.52 to 4.46 in the win.

Stockton collected 10 hits and took advantage three Storm errors to score eight times. Brett Vertigan reached base four times from the lead-off spot, collecting a single, a double and two walks. In his first 55 at-bats in the Cal League, Vertigan has a .345 BA and a 1002 OPS.

Branden Cogswell and Matt Chapman also had two-hit games. Chapman collected a double and a single. After Chapman got off to a slow start, his average is now up to .250 and his OPS is 858.

Ben Bracewell allowed just a hit over two scoreless innings in relief to close out the win.

Midland Loses Slugfest to Corpus Christi

For the second time this season, the Midland RockHounds chased former number one pick Mark Appel early in a start, but it wasn't enough for Midland to pull out a win in a 15-8 Texas League slugfest.

The RockHounds scored seven runs on eight hits in 3.2 innings off of Appel. Chad Pinder had the big blow, a two-out grand slam in the fourth inning. Pinder finished the game with four hits, raising his average to .288. The grand slam was Pinder's sixth homer of the season. Colin Walsh also homered and added a double, while Ryon Healy had three hits. Matt Olson, Bruce Maxwell and Jaycob Brugman each had two-hit games.

Midland starter Chris Jensen was rocked for 10 runs in three innings. He allowed four homeruns. Kris Hall (2.1 innings) and Andres Avila (2.2 innings) each allowed a run.

Beloit Drops Tight Game Late

With the game tied at 2-2 in the top of the eighth, the Cedar Rapids Kernals scored twice to take a lead they wouldn't relinquish. The Kernals won the game, 7-3.

Starter Brett Graves had a solid start, allowing a run on three hits in five innings. He struck-out only one but walked just two. Joey Wagman allowed a run in two innings before Cody Stull allowed the final five Cedar Rapids' runs in the eighth and ninth.

No Beloit hitter had more than one hit in the game. Max Kuhn had their only extra-base hit (a double) and he walked twice. After a rough start in April (498 OPS), Kuhn has a .256/.348/.372 line in May.

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