Devil Rays 3, Athletics 1
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP)—Being he’s a starting pitcher, Scott Kazmir had a little more time than his teammates to catch up on sleep after a delayed cross country flight kept the Devil Rays from reaching the Bay Area until Friday morning.
He woke up around 2 p.m. and headed straight for the stadium.
Some eight hours later, Kazmir won for the third time in four starts to help Tampa Bay stop an 11-game losing streak in Oakland with a 3-1 victory over the Athletics.
“It’s nice to get that streak out of the way,” Kazmir said. “My changeup early in the count helped me get a lot of strikes.”
Toby Hall and Ty Wigginton hit back-to-back RBI singles in the first that held up, and Jonny Gomes added a sacrifice fly in the seventh for Tampa Bay, which hadn’t won in the Coliseum since beating Barry Zito 9-3 on July 8, 2003. The Devil Rays also ended a four-game skid this season.
Kazmir (4-2), who has won four of five decisions dating to an opening-day loss at Baltimore, allowed one run and nine hits in 5 2-3 innings, struck out four and walked two. In his previous three wins this season, he had allowed only one run in each outing.
After Shawn Camp allowed a leadoff single to Mark Kotsay in the ninth, Tyler Walker relieved and got three outs for his second save in three chances— making his first appearance in the Bay Area since the San Francisco Giants traded him April 28.
“I have more of a comfort level here. I’ve pitched on this mound a lot,” he said. “And it was my mom’s birthday, so that was a little gift for her.”
Julio Lugo went 1-for-5 with a bunt single, and Aubrey Huff singled and scored a run in the first game back for both players after lengthy stints on the disabled list. The Devil Rays looked surprisingly alert all game considering the arrival time after a cross country flight for their first trip West of 2006.
“The fact is, when you get some of your regular guys back, it energizes everybody,” manager Joe Maddon said.
So does a pitching performance like the one Kazmir put on.
The team plane added too much fuel in Atlanta and was too heavy to leave St. Petersburg until the Rays removed some of their equipment.
“We ate too much after the game,” joked Maddon, who got to his hotel room at 5 a.m. for a few hours of sleep.
Lugo and Huff were activated late Thursday night, and Lugo was leading off with Huff in the cleanup spot to start the three-game series with the A’s, who began a stretch of nine straight against the AL East.
Lugo had been sidelined since April 6 with a strained muscle in his left side sustained on opening day. Huff, coming off four straight seasons with 20 or more home runs, strained his left knee in a collision with Nick Green on a foul ball April 11 against the Orioles on the way to his first career stint on the DL.
“Just getting him back and me back changes the lineup drastically,” Huff said. “I never realized it was that bad here, that it was so tough for us to win here.”
Bobby Crosby hit a sacrifice fly, and Bobby Kielty and Mark Ellis each doubled for the A’s, whose offense sputtered a day after a 12-4 rout of the Cleveland Indians—Oakland’s third game in five scoring 10 or more runs. First baseman Travis Lee threw out Nick Swisher at home in the eighth to save a run.
The A’s stranded 13 runners.
“We had plenty of hits but not at the right time,” A’s manager Ken Macha said. “It’s a tough loss to leave all those guys on base.”
Joe Blanton (3-3), trying to win his straight start, pitched well but didn’t get enough from his offense. He gave up three runs and eight hits in seven innings, his longest outing since going eight innings in his first start April 7 at Seattle.
“It’s just balls are finding the holes right now,” Blanton said. “There’s nothing anybody can do.”
Oakland, which had won six of seven, began the day with a majors-worst .234 batting average. Tampa Bay has the third-worst average in the AL at .239, ahead of Kansas City’s .237 and the A’s.
The Devil Rays are 7-30 in Oakland, their worst record in any AL stadium. Their losing streak in the A’s stadium matched the club’s worst in an opposing park with Yankee Stadium (April 14, 2004, to April 18, 2005).
Huff was replaced at third in the seventh by Tomas Perez. … Swisher singled in the second to reach base safely for the 24th straight game. … A’s C Jason Kendall was suspended four games for charging the mound and Los Angeles Angels pitcher John Lackey was fined Friday for his actions in the altercation Tuesday. Kendall was also fined by Major League Baseball. He asked the players’ association to appeal the suspension and was in the lineup. … The A’s recalled RHP Matt Roney from Triple-A Sacramento and optioned RHP Chad Gaudin to Sacramento.
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