A return home following the All-Star break appears to be what the Tampa Bay Rays needed to bounce back from their longest losing streak of the season.
The Rays hope to continue their surge Tuesday night as they try to send the reeling Oakland Athletics to their seventh consecutive loss.
Tampa Bay (58-40) beat Oakland 4-0 in Monday’s series opener - its third win in four games since entering the All-Star break with seven straight losses.
The Rays, who took two of three from Toronto over the weekend to open this six-game homestand, are back in the AL East lead after sitting one-half game back of Boston at the break.
Evan Longoria went 2-for-5 with two RBIs and homered for the third straight game, while Scott Kazmir and two-relievers combined on a two-hitter Monday for the Rays, who have won nine of 11 at home to improve to 39-15 there this season.
“I’m just trying to keep on an even keel and keep that locked-in feeling right now,” Longoria, who is 6-for-17 with two homers and five RBIs in four games versus Oakland this season, told the Rays’ official Web site.
Tampa Bay’s Andy Sonnanstine (10-4, 4.58 ERA) looks to bounce back from his first defeat since May 27. He allowed six runs and nine hits in 5 1-3 innings of a 13-2 loss at Cleveland on July 10.
“This one is real frustrating for a number of reasons,” said Sonnanstine, who had been 4-0 with a 3.15 ERA over his previous seven starts. “To get beat up like this in a blowout, it’s not a good feeling.”
The right-hander wasn’t much better at Oakland on May 21, giving up seven runs in six innings of a 9-1 loss.
Oakland (51-48), meanwhile, is mired in its longest losing streak since dropping nine straight from July 6-17, 2007. The A’s have been outscored 25-9 during their six-game skid.
“A rough time right now. We haven’t been able to do much,” said Oakland’s Jack Cust, who had a hit Monday. “We’ve gone through it before. Hopefully, we can get out of it.”
Ryan Sweeney also had a hit for the A’s, who have managed only seven in their last two contests. Sweeney, who has three of them, drove in the team’s lone run in a 2-1 loss to the New York Yankees on Sunday. He is 8-for-18 with four RBIs in his last five games.
The A’s hope Dallas Braden (1-0, 4.80) can help them end their skid in his first start of the season. Braden, who’s made nine appearances out of the bullpen, makes this start in place of Joe Blanton, who was traded to Philadelphia last week.
Braden went 1-8 with a 7.31 ERA in 14 starts as a rookie last season for Oakland. The left-hander allowed five runs in 4 1-3 innings of a 5-3 loss to Tampa Bay on April 29, 2007 - his only career start versus the Rays.