Athletics 4, Devil Rays 2

Preview | Box Score | Recap

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP)—Ted Lilly realizes the significance of each start he makes for the Oakland Athletics.

“It’s certainly an important time for me to really contribute to our club,” Lilly said.

Lilly took a one-hitter into the seventh inning as the A’s beat the Tampa Bay Devil Rays 4-2 on Saturday night for their season-high eighth straight win.

With Mark Mulder on the disabled list the rest of the season, the A’s hope Lilly can help fill the void in the final month of the season.

“If there’s any time I want to be pitching well, it’s now,” Lilly said.

Lilly (8-9) retired 11 of his first 12 batters before allowing an infield single to Aubrey Huff in the fourth as the A’s retained a two-game lead in the AL West and improved to a major league-best 19-9 in August.

Lilly gave up a run, three hits and struck out seven in 6 2-3 innings to improve to 3-1 over his last seven starts.

“He had good command and used his changeup well,” A’s manager Ken Macha said. “He hasn’t had this many innings before and we want to get him an extra day if we can. But with Mulder out, we’re kind of scrambling.”

Keith Foulke pitched the ninth for his AL-leading 37th save in 42 chances.

Eric Chavez went 2-for-4 with two RBIs, and Scott Hatteberg hit his 11th homer for Oakland.

Rob Bell (3-3) retired 11 straight after Chavez’s two-run double in the third, but it wasn’t enough to prevent the Devil Rays from losing to the A’s for the 16th time in 18 games.

“I feel like I’ve turned a corner,” Bell said. “One swing of the bat can change everything. I would have felt better not allowing that extra run.”

Lilly was nearly flawless until running into trouble with two outs in the seventh.

Adam Piatt’s double in the seventh was a routine fly ball to left field that Terrence Long lost in the twilight sky. Travis Lee then hit an RBI single—the hardest of the three hits Lilly allowed.

Bell was equal to the task despite snapping his three-game winning streak as he pitched 6 2-3 innings, allowing three runs on five hits. He walked one and struck out one.

Bell had a troublesome inning in the third when he allowed singles to Mark Ellis and Hatteberg preceding Chavez’s double.

In the seventh, he issued a one-out walk to Ramon Hernandez and left after Chris Singleton’s RBI double one out later.

Marlon Anderson’s sixth homer, a pinch-hit solo shot off Chad Bradford leading off the eighth, brought Tampa Bay within a run at 3-2.

Hatteberg’s solo homer off Lance Carter in the eighth made it 4-2.

The Devil Rays, who lead the majors in walks (549), wild pitches (60) andhit batters (77), recorded one of each against the A’s.

Notes

The A’s signed RHP Steve Sparks to a minor league contract before the game and assigned him to Double-A Midland. … The Devil Rays were officially eliminated from the AL East Division race, though they still have a mathematical chance at the wild card. … Huff extended his hitting streak to nine games with his single. … Chavez is a career .313 hitter in August, his best average for any month. … Oakland has 17 winning streaks of eight games or more, eight since 2000. … The A’s had their 11th sellout of the season as45,150 fans showed up in part for a post-game fireworks show.

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