Athletics starter Sonny Gray gave up just two hits in six-plus innings of work vs. the Orioles on Sunday, helping Oakland take the rubber match of the series. (Ben Margot/AP)

Baltimore might have another chance to play the Oakland Athletics down the road in October with much higher stakes on the line. But following a humbling, 10-2 loss to the team with the best record in baseball Sunday afternoon, the Orioles couldn’t escape Oakland quick enough.

Few games have gotten away from the Orioles this season, but this one did. The Orioles were held to two hits by Athletics starter Sonny Gray. They made uncharacteristic mistakes defensively — both physical and mental — and right-hander Kevin Gausman made his shortest start since his season debut in May.

And as the Orioles (53-44) dropped two of three games here at Coliseum on the first leg of their three-city, West Coast road trip, the differences between these two American League division leaders became obvious in Sunday’s series finale in front of an announced 30,124.

The Orioles’ eight-run loss marked their largest margin of defeat since an 11-1 loss to Oakland on June 8 in the series finale between the two teams at Camden Yards. The Orioles lost four of six games to the Athletics this season.

“You look at that first game, where they came back at the end, but we very easily could have won two of three here,” Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy said. “They are the best team in baseball right now, and we were right there with them.”

Orioles Manager Buck Showalter, however, scoffed at the idea this series was a barometer for his club.

“I think we all know where they’re gonna be with their pitching staff,” Showalter said. “It’s just a matter of grinding through the rest of the season to see if we have a chance to roll the dice in September and October. I’m not into barometers and comparisons. You didn’t ask that [Saturday] night. Each night you can present a different mentality, and we have to stay away from that.”

After the game, the club headed to Los Angeles for its next stop in a 10-game gantlet against AL West opponents for three games vs. an Angels team that has won 14 of 17 in July.

“Move on to L.A.,” Showalter said. “It’s over. We’re just trying to continue to have a chance. We didn’t pitch particularly well today, and that’s the difference. [Oakland is] pitching well.”

Gausman, who had given up one or fewer runs in five of his last six starts, allowed 11 base runners — a career-high nine hits and two walks — in four-plus innings Sunday.

— Baltimore Sun