PITTSBURGH -- Dan Straily's last trip down to Triple-A Sacramento was no demotion. It was simply about the A's taking advantage of roster flexibility with no need for a fifth starter at the time.
Straily continues to prove that he is needed, even though, again, he is headed back to join the River Cats after picking up the win in the A's second straight 2-1 victory over the Pirates on Tuesday -- the club's 10th win in its last 13 tries.
Oakland's righty limited Pittsburgh to one run on just two hits and three walks with seven strikeouts in 6 1/3 innings Tuesday, knowing even before he threw his first pitch that he would be optioned at game's end because his next turn in the rotation would not come until after the All-Star break.
By sending Straily down, the A's can call up an extra arm, as they plan to do Wednesday by promoting right-handed prospect Sonny Gray.
"It's not the first time," Straily said. "It's simple. I'm not needed until after the All-Star break. I could've gone out and thrown a perfect game tonight, and after the game I would've been optioned out. It's nothing personal. I'm just not needed until after the break."
"That's just the way it is, the life of a fifth starter," manager Bob Melvin said. "And when he performs in the fashion he does, it's quite the luxury, and he understands."
Straily has given up just three hits total in his last two starts, spanning 13 1/3 innings, and limited his opponents to two runs or fewer in seven of his last nine outings.
His lone mistake in Tuesday's game, delayed one hour, 42 minutes because of storms that threatened but never came, was a leadoff solo shot to Pedro Alvarez in the second inning.
But Pittsburgh's lead was wiped away for good in the fourth, when John Jaso boarded on a two-out single against righty Gerrit Cole and quickly scored on Brandon Moss' ensuing homer to right field, his team-leading 16th of the season but first against his former club.
"I felt like maybe looking for the changeup would slow me down a little bit, and it did," Moss said. "It's no different to sit on a changeup than it is to sit on a fastball, and he was throwing a good many of them to left-handed hitters. You just pick your pitch. I thought that that would be what he'd use to get ahead or get weak contact with, and I thought it'd be a better pitch to sit on than the fastball."
Cole went seven innings for the Pirates, allowing five hits with two walks and four strikeouts. But the first selection in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft was bettered by Oakland's 24th-round 2009 pick.
"Straily was terrific again, mixing his pitches well, throwing his curveball, which he normally doesn't do, just had them off balance," Melvin said. "The one pitch he probably takes back is the changeup that probably stays in the middle of the plate, but, other than that he was terrific."
As for the curveball, Straily says pitching coach Curt Young gave him the idea to throw it more in passing, rather than mostly keep it on the shelf, as he had been doing since focusing on his work with the changeup last year.
"That strikeout to Alvarez," said Straily, referring to the fourth-inning whiff, "that's the first time I threw it to a right-hander in two years."
Straily had another first on this night, too. He enjoyed his first Major League plate appearance -- a strikeout -- and, in his second, tallied his first Major League walk. On four pitches.
"Bob told me to take a strike," Straily said, "and he never threw one."
Infielder Grant Green, called up Monday to make his Major League debut, quickly reminded him of something, something Straily was proud to relay to reporters:
"I did reach base before Grant Green."