Devil Rays 9, Athletics 6
“The only thing I can say is that they hit everything,” Loaiza said. “I was doing what I had been doing, getting ahead in the count and making them swing the bats. They put the bat on the ball and everything went their way.”
Loaiza allowed eight runs, 12 hits, one walk and had seven strikeouts over 5 1-3 innings. He was 5-0 in his previous six starts, giving up seven runs—six earned—over 45 1-3 innings during the stretch.
“Loaiza’s been a hot pitcher, especially of late,” Wigginton said. “To go out there and put up those kind of numbers against him, it’s a pretty good feat.”
Frank Thomas homered for the fourth consecutive game for the Athletics, who started the day with a 5 1/2 game lead over Los Angeles. The Angels hosted Toronto late Saturday night.
Tampa Bay got a solo homer from Greg Norton.
“The one at-bat that was pretty big was Wigginton up there with two strikes on him,” Oakland manager Ken Macha said. “He threw him a fastball and he ripped it in the hole there with the infield in.”
Norton had a sacrifice fly in fourth, and hit his 14th homer inning later to make it 5-3.
“It’s kind of ironic because the two bottom dwellers of the AL in offense, we’ve swung the bats pretty well this series so far,” Norton said. “Last night we battled, came back and just came up a little bit short. Tonight they were doing the same thing, and we got some big hits and we were able to come out on top.”
The Athletics (.259) and Tampa Bay (.254) have the lowest team batting averages in the AL.
“When he (Loaiza) started out that game, I said ‘heads up tonight,”’ Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon said. “He looked very calm and confident. The fastball, the slider, the cutter, it was all going on. I thought this might be a difficult night. I just think we kept grinding out the at-bats.”
Seth McClung pitched the ninth for his sixth save.
Thomas, who has 34 homers and 94 RBIs this season, got the Athletics within 4-3 on an RBI grounder in the fifth inning. He tied Billy Williams for 38th place all-time with 948 extra base hits.
Kendall has been hit by pitch 11 times this season, and 208 for his career— seventh-most in major league history.
Ben Zobrist’s RBI triple made it 9-5 in the seventh against Gaudin, who didn’t allowed a run in his previous 20 outings. Scutaro had a sacrifice fly in the eighth.
Howell gave up three runs and six hits in 4 1-3 innings.
Tampa Bay LHP Scott Kazmir (sore left shoulder) hopes to resume playing catch in the next few days. He stopped his first session of playing catch in two weeks Friday after nine throws when he felt discomfort in the shoulder. … Oakland CF Mark Kotsay will return to the Bay Area for treatment of a back injury. He could return Friday. … Athletics 3B Eric Chavez, a five-time Gold Glove winner, misplayed Zobrist’s grounder in the fourth for his fourth error of the season. … This is Thomas’ longest consecutive homer streak since a five-game run May 24-29, 1994.