Sean Rodriguez homer paces Rays’ 5-4 victory

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OAKLAND, Calif. (AP)—Sean Rodriguez(notes) kept reminding himself to wait on the fastball. When he got one, he took advantage.

Rodriguez hit a go-ahead, two-run home run off Craig Breslow(notes) in the eighth and the Tampa Bay Rays remained a game behind in the AL East with a 5-4 win over the Oakland Athletics Saturday night.

Evan Longoria(notes) hit a home run and Ben Zobrist(notes) and Willy Aybar(notes) also drove in runs for the Rays, who ended a four-game losing streak to the A’s.

“(Breslow) was throwing a lot of fastballs and he got a couple of punch outs with it,” Rodriguez said. “I remember him from last night late in the game getting a lot of guys with the fastball. I told myself to stay on it.”

Rodriguez said the pitch was down the middle.

“That’s about as good as I can hit it,” he said.

Mark Ellis(notes) had two hits and drove in two runs for Oakland, which had a four-game winning streak end. Kevin Kouzmanoff(notes) and Rajai Davis(notes) also drove in runs.

Randy Choate(notes) (3-3) pitched a perfect seventh for the win. Rafael Soriano(notes) worked the ninth for his 36th save. Breslow (4-4) took the loss after giving up Rodriguez’s eighth home run of the season.

Rays’ starter David Price(notes) lasted six innings, giving up four runs on six hits. He walked one and struck out four.

“The first inning was tough. I had some bad breaks,” Price said. “I felt fine in the sixth. I guess I made better pitches.”

A’s starter Brett Anderson(notes) went seven innings, allowing two runs on eight hits. He walked two and struck out a season-high eight.

“Physically it can be a grind when they get anybody on base,” Anderson said. “I thought I was able to minimize the damage and I got some big strikeouts, so it was a pretty decent outing.”

The A’s loaded the bases with no outs in the first, with Kouzmanoff hitting a sacrifice fly and Ellis singling home another run before Price settled in and avoided further damage.

“He really righted himself after that first inning,” Rays’ manager Joe Maddon said. “He really pounded the zone well. It’s just unfortunate they way the game started but we battled through it and eventually Sean caught one, and he caught it clean.”

Longoria led off the third with his 18th home run. He has three home runs in his last four games following a homerless streak of 19 games.

“We had a very good pitcher on the ropes early and we didn’t really take advantage of that,” A’s manager Bob Geren said. “Brett was in position to win and we just didn’t get it for him.”

Zobrist tied the game with a sacrifice fly in the sixth, but the A’s responded with two of their own. Ellis doubled in a run and scored when Davis singled.

Breslow got two outs sandwiched around a walk to Carlos Pena in the eighth. Aybar doubled into the right-center field gap to drive in a run ahead of Rodriguez’s shot.

“We are dripping with perseverance this year,” Maddon said. “I love that aspect about us. Even though it was really a dire looking moment and the fact they had all the momentum in their favor, I love the fact our group is playing those nine innings hard.”

Notes: The Rays optioned RHP Jeremy Hellickson(notes) to Single-A Charlotte after Friday night’s game. RHP Dale Thayer(notes) was recalled from Triple-A Durham to replace him. … Crisp scored his 500th run in the first. … Price needed 26 minutes and 43 pitches to get out of the first. … A’s OF Travis Buck(notes) is 0 for 10 since being called up from Sacramento. … A’s pitchers set an Oakland with 14 consecutive games of allowing three or fewer runs and lasting at least six innings. Anderson’s effort broke a tie with the 1980 A’s staff.

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