Athletics 6, Devil Rays 5

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP)—Jose Cruz Jr. ended his lengthy slump. It wasn’t enough to help the Tampa Bay Devil Rays end their slide.

Cruz snapped an 0-for-37 stretch with a seventh-inning single and added a two-run homer in the ninth, but the Devil Rays lost 6-5 to the Oakland Athletics on Saturday night.

“Too bad we didn’t win, but from a personal level it’s nice to get on the board,” Cruz said. “It was definitely a relief. I’ve never been through anything like that, for that long. It just shows that hitting is very mental.”

The Devil Rays have lost six straight. They have scored 10 runs in the past 46 innings.

“When you’re losing games, you find a way to lose them,” Tampa Bay manager Lou Piniella said.

Erubiel Durazo hit his second career grand slam with two outs in the ninth inning for Oakland. The Athletics have won two straight after a six-game losing skid.

Durazo’s bases-loaded shot off Trever Miller that made it 6-1 was his third homer in the past two games. He had a pair of two-run homers in Oakland’s 4-2 win over the Devil Rays Friday night.

“Erubiel carries us again tonight,” Oakland manager Ken Macha said. “Gives us a little breathing room and we needed all of it.”

Durazo entered the series with one homer and four RBIs.

“I feel a lot of confidence,” he said.

In the bottom of the ninth, the Devil Rays scored four times off Oakland’s Jim Mecir behind Carl Crawford’s two-run triple—his second triple of the game—and Cruz Jr.’s two-run homer.

“I was just trying to get outs,” Mecir said. “We won. That’s all that matters.”

Mecir has given up nine runs over his last two relief appearances, a span of one inning. He failed to get an out on Tuesday against the Yankees, and his ERA has ballooned to 12.91.

Eric Chavez homered and Bobby Crosby hit a sacrifice fly in a two-run eighth inning that put Oakland up 2-1.

Chavez tied it at 1 with a lead off homer off Lance Carter (0-1). The Athletics then loaded the bases with no outs. Dicky Gonzalez replaced Carter and allowed a tiebreaking sacrifice fly to Crosby.

Cruz lined a single to left off Chris Hammond in the seventh. His last hit was a fourth-inning single April 16 against the Chicago White Sox.

“You definitely need to have short term memory to succeed in this league,” Cruz said. “You have to put it behind you and keep going. Just keep pushing.”

Cruz struck out in the first to set a team-record by going hitless in 35 at-bats. He also struck out in the third and flew out in the fifth, extending his drought to 37 at-bats.

Cruz tied Greg Vaughn’s mark of 0-for-34 set in 2002 when he flew out as a pinch-hitter Friday night.

The previous major league streak of going 35 or more at-bats without a hit in one season was when Chris Widger went 0-for-37 with Montreal in 2000.

Oakland’s Rich Harden gave up one run and six hits in six innings. He held the Devil Rays to 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position.

Hammond (2-1) threw two scoreless innings for the win.

Devil Rays starter Jeremi Gonzalez allowed six hits over six scoreless innings. He was looking for his first victory since beating Baltimore August 19.

Tampa Bay went up 1-0 in the third when Crawford tripled and later scored when Oakland catcher Damian Miller was charged with a two-out passed ball.

Miller was picked off second by Gonzalez with two on and two outs with Chavez at-bat in the fifth.

Gonzalez got some defensive help in sixth. Shortstop Julio Lugo fielded Jermaine Dye’s grounder behind second and threw out the Oakland right fielder while making a spin move.

Later in the sixth, Gonzalez struck out Crosby with two on and two outs.

Crosby also struck out with runners on first-and-third and two outs infourth. He has struck out at least once in 16 of his 18 games.


Plate umpire Jerry Crawford was hit by a pitch in the collarbone-neck area in the third. After being examined on the field, he remained in the game. … Vaughn snapped his 0-for-34 slide exactly two years earlier on May 1, 2002. … Tampa Bay GM Chuck LaMar has been nominated for the Branch Rickey Award,which recognizes community contributions by individuals in baseball.

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