Athletics 3, Devil Rays 1
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP)—Eric Chavez regained the form that led to some impressive power numbers. He hopes that signals a good stretch run.
“I went through a tough stretch,” said Chavez, who has been troubled by strained muscles in his forearms since early in the season. “I’m getting healthy. Obviously the healthier I feel the better, hopefully, I’ll be more often than not. For two months I had no chance.”
Loaiza (6-7) pitched eight strong innings as the AL West-leading A’s won for the ninth time in 10 games. Tampa Bay lost its sixth in a row.
“That’s my fastest speed this year,” Loaiza said of reaching 95 on the radar gun twice during the game. “I haven’t hit that in a long time. My first two innings I think the highest I hit was 91. I got stronger and it turned out to be a great game.”
Loaiza allowed three hits and Huston Street got the final three outs for his 29th save in 36 chances.
“There was a lot of movement on his fastball,” A’s catcher Jason Kendall said. “He was consistent with all his pitches.”
Tim Corcoran (4-4), the Devil Rays’ 28-year-old rookie, did not allow a hit until Chavez singled leading off the fifth.
“He made one mistake to Chavez, a very good hitter, and he did not miss it,” Devil Rays manager Joe Maddon said. “Other than that he was very good. So was their guy.”
Corcoran retired 19 of the first 21 batters until Frank Thomas singled ahead of Chavez’s homer. Chavez hit his 16th home run of the season and first since July 19.
“It was a little weird,” Chavez said. “When you face a guy for the first time it’s a little different. Frank (Thomas) got the pressure started with a knock and he tried to sneak in a fastball. Sometimes you guess right.”
Corcoran, using a full windup for the first time this season, gave up three hits over seven innings. He lost his fourth straight decision after starting out 4-0 following his recall from Triple-A Durham on June 14.
“I felt good and was able to put it where I wanted to for the most part,” he said. “The windup felt good. I was able to get into a good rhythm. Instead of being jerky, it was nice and easy, a nice flow.”
After Russell Branyan hit an RBI double in the second, Loaiza set down the next 15 hitters before issuing a pair of one-out walks in the seventh. Loaiza struck out Branyan and got Josh Paul to fly out.
Loaiza, one of the Athletics’ big free-agent signing during the offseason, has won two straight for the first time since June 8-15. He struck out five and walked two.
“As far as sheer stuff, that was his best of the year,” A’s manager Ken Macha said. “It’s been awhile since Chavy hit a home run. It was good timing for that. His offense has been slowing coming. Today was a good sign. He drove the ball pretty good in another at bat too.”
The Devils Rays fell to 1-15 on the road since the All-Star break. They have been swept four times since the All-Star break, all on the road.
“We’ve had some sloppy games,” Tampa Bay’s Greg Norton said. “We’re a team that needs to play a clean game to compete and win, especially in the division we’re in.”
All six games between the teams have been decided by three runs or less. … Devil Rays 3B B.J. Upton led off for the first time this season. … A’s RHP Rich Harden threw another long-toss session before the game. … A’s LHP Joe Kennedy was expected to come off the disabled list in time for Monday night’s game against the Seattle Mariners. … A’s OF Mark Kotsay (back) missed his seventh game but did participate in pre-game drills and is expected to play on Monday. … Street recorded the save in all three games against the Devil Rays. … Tampa Bay is 8-35 all-time in Oakland, its worst AL road park. … The A’s are 11-4 in games which Chavez homers.
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