Devil Rays 11, Athletics 2
Zambrano (10-8) gave up nine hits, walked none and struck out eight in his 35th major league start. He became just the fourth Tampa Bay pitcher ever to win 10 or more games in a season.
“I’m not really thinking about what team I’m going to face,” Zambrano said. “I’m only thinking about what I’m going to do that day and how I feel. Just go in and do my job.”
Zito (11-12) was tagged for seven runs, six hits and three walks over 5 1-3 innings.
“Getting behind guys is frustrating,” said Zito, who threw 100 pitches.
On July 8, the Devil Rays battered Zito for seven runs and 15 hits in 5 1-3 innings during a 9-3 win at Oakland.
Rocco Baldelli drove in three runs as Tampa Bay took two of three from the AL West-leading Athletics. The Devil Rays also won two of three from wild-card contender Seattle during their six-game homestand.
“First of all, we’re trying to win as many games as we can,” Devil Rays manager Lou Piniella said. “Second of all, a little pride factor involved when you’re playing those teams with postseason aspirations. Go do your work someplace else … not at our expense.”
Oakland has dropped four of five since a 10-game winning streak. The Athletics did maintain their two-game lead over the second place Mariners.
“The bad news is we lost today,” Athletics manager Ken Macha said. “We’re going to go home and we’re going to have the lead. It’s going to go down to the wire.”
Zambrano retired nine straight before Billy McMillon opened the fourth with a single.
McMillon later scored to put the Athletics up 1-0 on Eric Chavez’s double. Chavez has nine RBIs in his past nine games.
“Those first three innings, it looked like he was going to throw a perfect game,” Macha said. “All of sudden, he started walking some people. It turned into a mess.”
Zito has walked 79 this season, the second-highest total in the AL. Zambrano leads the league with 94 walks.
“It goes to show you that if good pitchers walk people, they give up runs, too,” Piniella said.
Travis Lee followed with an RBI double to tie it at 1.
The Devil Rays loaded the bases with no outs in the fifth on a walk, bunt single and hit batter.
With one out, Baldelli drove in two runs with a single that hit the dirt near the plate and bounced over the head of first baseman Erubiel Durazo. Huff then added a sacrifice fly to put the Devil Rays up 4-1.
“We can’t really ask to be playing much better,” Baldelli said. “We’re playing confidentially. Things are going our way. It’s nice to see.”
Tampa Bay went ahead 8-1 with a four-run sixth.
Toby Hall hit an RBI double during a three-run seventh as Tampa Bay took an 11-1 lead.
McMillon had a run-scoring in the eighth.
The opening of the gates at Tropicana Field was delayed 20 minutes because of a bomb threat. The gates were opened after officials checked the stadium. … Zito was 4-0 with an 0.90 ERA against Tampa Bay before the two losses this season. … The Devil Rays had lost the previous 15 series against the Athletics. … Zambrano was 0-3 in his five previous starts. … Oakland has 19 games remaining—all against AL West teams. The Athletics are 22-17 ingames with their divisional counterparts this season.