Athletics 5, Devil Rays 4, 11 innings
At least they still remember how to celebrate.
Kotsay drove home Marco Scutaro with a two-out single in the 11th inning, and the A’s snapped their second eight-game losing streak of May with a 5-4 victory over the Tampa Bay Devil Rays on Monday night.
When Kotsay finished Oakland’s third run-scoring rally in the final four innings of an unlikely win, his teammates burst from the dugout to greet him with a reckless enthusiasm usually reserved for autumn. The A’s are just 6-20 in May, but still hoping it’s possible to turn around their season.
“There hadn’t been a lot to be happy about here,” Kotsay said. “A lot of things hadn’t gone our way. To get a win tonight was huge for this club, the morale and the spirit. After losing eight and having a tough month, hopefully this is something we can build on.”
Jason Kendall tied it 4-4 with a two-out RBI single in the ninth for the A’s, who rallied from a three-run deficit in the eighth to avoid their longest losing streak since dropping nine straight from July 21-29, 1998.
After Charles Thomas and Scutaro singled with one out in the 11th against Travis Harper (1-3), the Devil Rays caught Thomas in a rundown between third and home plate after Kendall’s grounder. But Kotsay laced a clean single to right-center, sparking the first celebration in a long time at the Coliseum.
Huston Street (2-1) got three strikeouts in 1 2-3 innings for the A’s, who didn’t allow a run after the fifth inning.
“Coming in here today, there was an enthusiasm you really shouldn’t have after the (winless) road trip we just had,” Street said. “Everybody wanted that hit. There was a pretty big celebration, but you’ve got to enjoy it. You’ve got to have fun. I don’t think we overreacted at all.”
After Scott Kazmir held Oakland to one run and three hits over the first seven innings, the A’s rallied twice against Tampa Bay’s bullpen. Bobby Kielty, who also hit a first-inning homer, and Eric Chavez drove in runs in the eighth, and the A’s tied it with three straight singles in the ninth.
Baez blew his fourth save in 11 opportunities this season, tying him for the major league lead with more blown saves than he had in 33 chances last year. The Devil Rays also blew an 8-5 lead in the eighth inning of Sunday’s 10-9 home loss to Kansas City.
“Our starting pitching has gotten better, and all of a sudden, our bullpen can’t do its job,” Tampa Bay manager Lou Piniella said. “What can I do? I’ve tried them all. … We’ve blown two three-run leads in the eighth inning, and we can’t do that again.”
Hollins hit a two-run homer and Julio Lugo had a run-scoring single among his three hits for the Devil Rays, who opened a 12-game road trip with a disheartening loss. Tampa Bay dropped to 3-19 on the road, worst in the AL.
Tampa Bay went ahead 4-1 in the fifth on Aubrey Huff’s RBI double, and Kazmir allowed just one runner to reach third base while matching the longest start of his career.
A’s rookie Joe Blanton remained winless in his first 10 major league starts, allowing seven hits and four runs while failing to make it through the fifth inning for the fourth straight outing.
At least he got more than one out this time against the Devil Rays, who scored eight of their 10 first-inning runs against him in St. Petersburg last Wednesday in the middle game of a series sweep.
The A’s activated shortstop Bobby Crosby from the disabled list before the game, and he doubled in his first at-bat. Crosby, last season’s AL Rookie of the Year, had been out since opening day with two broken ribs.
The game was delayed in the second inning when Kazmir lost one of his contact lenses on the mound. He ran to the dugout for a replacement, then struck out Nick Swisher. “It shot out. It felt like the contact went further than the ball did,” Kazmir said. … A’s reliever Keiichi Yabu struck out the first four batters he faced. … Oakland’s starting pitchers have just one victory in the club’s last 25 games.