Athletics-Rays Preview

The Associated Press

Evan Longoria's power surge has helped the Tampa Bay Rays get off to a good start to their homestand.

The star third baseman looks to continue his home run binge when the Rays try for a second straight victory over the Oakland Athletics on Saturday night.

Longoria hit a two-run homer Friday as Tampa Bay (6-10) scored four times in the first inning of an 8-3 win over Oakland.

The A's (12-5) had a six-game road winning streak to start the season snapped as the Rays pounded out 10 hits and matched a season high for runs. Tampa Bay opened a six-game home stretch against Oakland and the New York Yankees that followed a 2-7 road trip.

Tampa Bay averaged 3.0 runs in its first 13 games, but 6.7 while winning two of the last three.

"It's still not there," manager Joe Maddon said. "We still need to improve in certain areas, but it's wins like this that can get you going in the right direction. It's all about confidence.''

Longoria has six hits in 25 at-bats, but four have been homers in the last five games. He has reached base in all 16 contests, with only two players in franchise history recording longer such streaks to begin a season - Rocco Baldelli with 24 in 2003 and Jorge Cantu with 20 in 2005.

"I think Longo is definitely getting toasty,'' Maddon said

The Rays hand the ball to Jeremy Hellickson (0-1, 4.91 ERA), who gave up two runs and three hits in seven innings while striking out nine in a 3-2 loss at Boston on Monday. He didn't get a decision.

The right-hander is 0-1 with a 5.40 ERA in four starts versus Oakland, which scored twice in the first inning Friday but did little else against four Rays pitchers.

With 11 hits in the series opener, the A's have posted double-digit hit totals in each road contest, though they scored fewer than six runs in a game away from home for the first time in 2013.

Shortstop Jed Lowrie went 4 for 4 to raise his average to .413.

"He's been as about as consistent as you can be,'' Oakland manager Bob Melvin said. "Up over .400 now at this time of year is pretty good.''

Coco Crisp homered and extended his hitting streak to 12 games, during which he's batting .392 with five home runs and nine RBIs. He's 3 for 9 with a double against Hellickson.

The A's hope Jarrod Parker (0-2, 10.80) can regroup after lasting 3 1-3 innings in each of his last two outings. He gave up eight runs and nine hits in a 10-1 loss to Detroit on Sunday.

"I made a couple of good pitches, and they hit them," said Parker, who has walked eight and struck out four in three starts. "And I made a couple of bad pitches and they hit them. I'm just a tick away. I feel fine.''

The right-hander went 0-1 in two starts against the Rays in 2012, allowing three runs in six innings in both.

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