OAKLAND, Calif. (AP)—A good chunk of Petaluma’s population packed the stands to support hometown star Jonny Gomes.
Tampa Bay’s entertaining designated hitter estimated close to 1,000 fans came to watch and cheer him—and he knows they left the stadium satisfied with his performance.
Exhausted from all the ticket requests, Gomes still managed to hit a pair of RBI doubles, and Mark Hendrickson pitched six strong innings in the Devil Rays’ 3-2 victory over the Oakland Athletics on Sunday.
“It’s awesome when all eyes are on you, especially the hometown crowd,” Gomes said. “I was just trying not to embarrass myself.”
This time, it was the Devil Rays who put up two unearned runs in the third following pitcher Brad Halsey’s throwing error to third. Tampa Bay won a series in Oakland for the first time and also got its first victory against a left-handed starter this year.
Hendrickson (2-2) ended a two-start losing streak and won for the first time since coming off the disabled list after missing time with shoulder soreness, and the Devil Rays won a series for just the fourth time this year. Tyler Walker saved his second game in the series and his third in four chances overall.
It was a nice way to leave the Bay Area in the native San Franciscan’s first trip back since the Giants traded him April 28. Walker was on the mound at the end of Saturday’s loss.
“Not bad, huh?” he said of getting two saves. “Some (bad outings) stay with you longer than others. Usually it’s my rule that once I take a shower, it’s over. It’s down the drain.”
Gomes was greeted by the huge crowd in a section they deemed the “Gomes Zone.” The San Francisco native, who grew up about an hour north of Oakland in Petaluma, played back in the Bay Area this weekend for the first time as a major leaguer.
Little Leaguers from the three teams Gomes sponsors were out in force, and wearing their uniforms. Petaluma held “Jonny Gomes Day” on Feb. 11.
“He loves this kind of stuff,” manager Joe Maddon said. “He should be in one of those commercials ‘I live for this,’ because he does.”
Mark Ellis matched his career high with four hits. He homered in the third for the first hit off Hendrickson. Ellis’ first three career hits against Hendrickson were home runs—and he needs one home run to tie Dave Collins’ record of 32 homers by a player born in South Dakota. He also singled off Hendrickson in the fifth and had two more base hits.
Frank Thomas hit a solo homer to left leading off the eighth, the 454th of his career to move him past Gary Sheffield and into sole possession of 27th place. But Thomas ended the game on a called third strike that he didn’t like in the least.
He let plate umpire Phil Cuzzi know it, too. Thomas is batting only .188 with six home runs and 15 RBIs in his first season with the A’s.
“I thought it was a ball,” Thomas said. “Given the situation with the game on the line, you should get the benefit of the doubt—better than ending the game on a play like that. He hadn’t called that a ball all day. … It’s been tough, a tough start for me. One of the toughest I’ve ever had. I’ve got to keep fighting. It’s encouraging to hit a home run. I still have it.”
Cuzzi had no comment.
Halsey (1-1), making his second start as a fill-in for the injured Rich Harden, gave up only one earned run, allowed eight hits in 5 2-3 innings.
The 6-foot-9 Hendrickson was the second left-hander the A’s had faced this series and they have two more lefties in their next series starting Tuesday in Toronto.
Hendrickson allowed a two-out single to Ellis in the fifth followed by back-to-back walks to Kendall and Nick Swisher that loaded the bases, but Mark Kotsay lined out. That was one of many missed chances for Oakland, which had won seven of nine.
Swisher reached base three times to extend his streak for getting aboard safely to 26 straight games for the A’s, who played their AL-leading 13th one-run contest. Oakland scored only six total runs in three games with Tampa Bay after a 12-4 win over Cleveland on Thursday.
Devil Rays center fielder Joey Gathright made a sensational diving catch forward on Jay Payton’s shallow fly to start the fifth, but landed hard on his left shoulder and was slow getting up but stayed in the game after a short delay in which he was examined. He fouled a ball into his face in the eighth.
Tampa Bay SS Julio Lugo stole second and third in the sixth for his first stolen bags of the year in his third game back after missing 28 games with a strained left abdominal muscle. … Ellis had only his second and third hits off a lefty after coming in 1-for-14 against southpaws. … The A’s placed RF Milton Bradley on the 15-day DL because of strained muscle in his right side.