Athletics 5, Devil Rays 4
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP)—Some of the Oakland Athletics admit they’ve been scoreboard watching already. With Anaheim chasing so close behind, it’s been hard not to.
“It’s felt like September the last few weeks,” outfielder Eric Byrnes said. “We started playing pretty well and Anaheim started playing well.”
The A’s sixth straight victory extended their AL West lead to two games over the Angels, who lost 7-1 at home to Minnesota.
“I think we obviously notice how much they’ve been winning,” Byrnes said. “They finally lost again.”
Byrnes added a two-run homer for Oakland, which overcame three errors a day after rallying from a four-run deficit to win 8-7.
Hudson (10-4) retired the first six before a walk to Randall Simon leading off the third. Chavez, the A’s Gold Glove third baseman, committed a fielding error in the third to allow Carl Crawford to reach, and Mark McLemore’s fielding error at second in the fifth led to two unearned runs.
Hudson didn’t let it bother him.
“If anything, it makes me want to attack the strike zone even more and let the guys behind me make another play,” he said.
The Devil Rays received a warning after starter Dewon Brazelton plunked rookie Bobby Crosby in his left upper arm in the fourth following Byrnes’ homer. Brazelton hit Erubiel Durazo with a pitch last weekend after the designated hitter homered.
Chavez hit his 27th homer in the first, sending a 1-2 pitch from Brazelton (6-5) over the wall in left-center for a two-run shot. McLemore doubled before Chavez.
Byrnes hit the first pitch he saw from Brazelton in the fourth to left for a two-run homer, his 19th.
Hudson didn’t allow a hit until Simon’s single to right in the fifth after Jorge Cantu reached when McLemore misplayed a routine grounder. Geoff Blum followed with an RBI single, then Brook Fordyce hit a two-run double to pull Tampa Bay within 5-3. Jose Cruz Jr. then added an RBI groundout, scoring Fordyce.
Hudson allowed two earned runs and four hits in seven innings, struck out four and walked one. Octavio Dotel finished for his 16th save in 20 opportunities.
Hudson is 6-0 with a 1.63 ERA in nine home starts this year. He feels healthy again after missing more than a month with a strained left stomach muscle.
“I obviously had some time off and I feel fresh right now,” he said. “Physically, I feel as close to 100 percent as I have in the past. I’m feeling good out there. I feel confident.”
Brazelton had won his previous two starts, including beating Oakland 2-1 last Sunday with seven strong innings. Manager Lou Piniella gave him an extra day before Saturday’s start.
A frustrated Piniella didn’t talk to reporters after the game. The Devils Rays have lost 12 of their last 17 and are just 6-26 in Oakland—their worst record in any opposing ballpark. They have dropped 15 of their last 16 here.
Brazelton has never won on the road, falling to 0-10. The right-hander allowed more than three runs for only the second time in his last nine starts.
“I wanted my seventh win, simple as that,” he said. “I’ve been pitching well, but came out today and Byrnes’ hit was crushed. … Last week, things went my way. This week, they didn’t.”
He was tagged for five runs and six hits in four innings, struck out one and didn’t walk a batter.
The A’s will try to complete a perfect homestand—they swept Baltimore in four games last week—Sunday in the series finale.
Chavez has six homers in his last nine games, and nine in August. He’s hit five in eight games against the Devil Rays this year. … Dye’s double in the first ended an 0-for-12 stretch. … Piniella celebrated his 61st birthday. … The A’s drew a sellout crowd of 48,099 on fireworks night. … Blum has six RBIs in his last three games.