RENO, Nev. — The River Cats used a nine-strikeout performance from Jesse Chavez on Monday night at Aces Ballpark, fighting through a snow delay to complete the four-game series sweep with a 7-3 victory over their interdivision rivals.
In a series that saw Sacramento score 53 runs over the first three games, Chavez’s performance was the difference on Monday. The right-hander struck out nine without issuing a walk, allowing just two earned runs and six hits. Mike Ekstrom tossed the final two innings to earn his second save of the season.
Also for the Cats, Michael Choice hit his third home run in the past two days — all three of which went to the opposite field — and finished 2-for-2 with two walks, three RBIs and two runs scored. Josh Horton added two singles and an RBI for Sacramento.
The game was delayed eight minutes in the middle of the eighth inning when a snowstorm passed through the area.
Oakland walks past Houston, 11-3
OAKLAND (AP) — Jed Lowrie drove in four runs, Tommy Milone won his third straight start and the Oakland Athletics beat the Houston Astros, 11-2, on Monday night.
Nate Freiman added a three-run homer and Brandon Moss had three RBIs for the A’s. Oakland also benefited from eight walks — four in the first inning by Houston starter Erik Bedard.
Carlos Pena had two hits for the Astros, who have lost three straight following a three-game winning streak.
Milone (3-0) had a season-high six strikeouts and didn’t walk a batter for the eighth time in his career. The left-hander, who won an Oakland rookie record 13 games in 2012, pitched out of jams in the fourth and sixth before leaving following Jose Altuve’s one-out RBI single in the seventh.
The A’s, who swept the Astros in Houston earlier this season, needed it after Brett Anderson and Jarrod Parker were roughed up by the Detroit Tigers last weekend.
Niemi’s shutout sends Sharks to win
GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Antti Niemi stopped 35 shots for his fourth shutout of the season, Logan Couture scored two goals, and the San Jose Sharks earned a key road victory by racing past the Phoenix Coyotes 4-0 on Monday night.
Needing a win after a rough week, the Sharks overwhelmed Phoenix in the second period to move within a point of Los Angeles for fourth place in the Western Conference.
San Jose outshot Phoenix 24-7 in the period, going up 3-0 on goals by Tommy Wingels, Couture and Joe Pavelski. Niemi made some tough saves early and was steady after the Sharks took the lead to earn his 23rd career NHL shutout.
Jason LaBarbera stopped 37 shots for Phoenix, which remained 11th in the West and four points out of the final playoff spot with six games left.
Thunder top Kings to clinch West
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Kevin Durant scored 29 points, Russell Westbrook had 21 before getting ejected in the final 3 minutes and the Oklahoma City Thunder clinched the top seed in the Western Conference playoffs by beating the Sacramento Kings, 104-95, on Monday.
Tyreke Evans, the Kings’ second-leading scorer, did not return after grabbing at his troublesome left knee following a drive to the basket late in the first quarter.
Isaiah Thomas led Sacramento with 16 points, Travis Outlaw scored 15 and Cole Aldrich had a double-double for the second straight game, tying his career best with 12 points and setting a career high with 13 rebounds.
Demarcus Cousins, who was allowed to play after the NBA rescinded his 16th technical foul of the season, had just seven points and six rebounds and didn’t play in the fourth quarter.