ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- The Tampa Bay finished a three-game sweep of the American League West leading Oakland Athletics on Sunday with an 8-1 win at Tropicana Field.
Tampa Bay (8-10) exploited a dropped fly ball from Gold Glove right fielder Josh Reddick to take a 3-0 lead in the first inning that set the tone for the series finale. Oakland had just three hits off Rays' starter Roberto Hernandez and two relievers.
Hernandez allowed one run on three hits in six innings -- striking out seven and walking three. The Rays' fifth starter worked out of trouble in the fourth and fifth innings to win for the first time this season.
Ryan Roberts and Yunel Escobar each had two hits for the Rays.
A hit batter and Reddick's error were key for the light-hitting Rays in the first inning. Roberts singled with one out and Ben Zobrist chased him to third with a booming double to center before Reddick dropped a routine fly ball from Evan Longoria. Roberts scored for a 1-0 lead. Shelley Duncan walked to load the bases before Oakland starter Tommy Milone hit Sean Rodriguez with a 1-2 fastball to force home Zobrist for a 2-0 lead. Kelly Johnson's sacrifice fly out to the center field wall scored Longoria with the third run.
The Rays were right back on Milone in the second, as ninth-hole hitter Escobar hit the first pitch into the left-field stands. His first homer of the year improved the lead to 4-0.
Oakland (12-7) pulled within 4-1 in the fourth on an RBI single by Reddick. Seth Smith, who led off being hit by a Hernandez pitch and advanced on a walk and a fielder's choice, scored on Reddick's shot to right through an exaggerated shift.
The Athletics loaded the bases with two outs in the fifth on a Coco Crisp single and two walks, but Hernandez retained the three-run lead when Brandon Moss lined out.
Tampa Bay added two runs in the seventh on a Roberts' RBI double off Milone and reliever Pat Neshek's wild pitch with the bases loaded. James Loney's RBI double and Escobar's single in the eighth improved the lead to 8-1.
Milone (3-1) allowed four earned runs on eight hits, with six strikeouts, in 6 2/3 innings.
NOTES: With a third-inning double, Rays' 3B Longoria tied a career mark by reaching base in 32 consecutive games. The streak, dating to Sept. 19, 2012, is the longest current in baseball. He's hit four home runs in his last seven games. ... Rays' SS prospect Hak-Ju Lee tore ligaments in his left knee during a collision at second base for Triple-A Durham on Saturday and is likely lost for the season. ... Reddick, who has a bet with WWE performer Daniel Bryan over who can maintain a beard longer this season, arrived Sunday with his fugitive facial hair and mane trimmed as he battled a 2-for-22 slump. Reddick had been growing the beard since November. He had an RBI single in his second at-bat, but dropped a ball that helped a three-run Rays' first.