Back home again, Suzuki has a blast in A's win

Eric Gilmore, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Catcher Kurt Suzuki celebrated his Oakland homecoming in style on Friday night, hitting a three-run homer and lifting the A's to a 4-3 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays.
Suzuki played in Coliseum for the first time since returning to the A's on Aug. 23 in a trade with the Washington Nationals. That trade came just over a year after the A's traded Suzuki to the Nationals.
Suzuki's first homer since his return gave the A's a 3-1 lead in the fifth inning. He drilled David Price's first-pitch change-up over the left-field fence.
"It was pretty special," Suzuki said. "That felt really good, and for it to be off a pitcher like Price, who's arguably one of the best pitchers in the game right now, was pretty neat."
The Rays scored twice in the top of the eighth to pull even at 3, but the A's answered with a run in the bottom of the inning.
Coco Crisp lined a leadoff single to center off Price, ending his night. Crisp went to second on a hit-and-run as Josh Donaldson, facing right-hander Joel Peralta, grounded out to second. Jed Lowrie brought Crisp home with a double to right, extending his hitting streak to a career-high 12 games.
"I was just looking for a pitch up in the zone that I could hit a line drive somewhere," Lowrie said. "He hung a splitter and I was able to hit it down the line for a double."
A's closer Grant Balfour pitched a scoreless ninth for his 34th save, one day after suffering his second blown save of the season against Detroit.
Oakland starter Jarrod Parker allowed three runs and six hits in seven innings, striking out three and walking three. He got a no-decision but still made history. Parker is 8-0 in his past 17 starts, and his 17-game unbeaten streak is tied for the longest in Oakland history, matching Catfish Hunter's streak from June 2 to Sept. 3, 1973. Parker hasn't lost since May 22 at Texas.
Parker was much more excited about Suzuki's dramatic home run than his history-making start.
"You couldn't make that stuff up," Parker said. "That's what's awesome. He's huge to us, not only on-the-field stuff, but in here. For our staff, he's huge. He's big for us to pick up at this point of the year."
Price (8-6) took the loss, allowing four runs -- three earned -- and six hits in seven innings.
The A's pulled within two games of first-place Texas in the American League West, and the Rays fell 3 1/2 games behind first-place Boston in the AL East. In the AL wild-card race, the A's jumped a half-game over Tampa Bay for the top spot.
The A's spotted Tampa Bay a 1-0 lead in the second inning, but Suzuki gave the A's a 3-1 lead in the fifth.
In the top of the eighth, David DeJesus lined a leadoff single to right and moved to second when Parker walked Ben Zobrist. That was it for Parker, who gave way to right-hander Ryan Cook. Evan Longoria blooped a single to right, loading the bases and snapping his 0-for-18 skid.
Matt Joyce cut Oakland's lead to 3-2 with a sacrifice fly to left. Then James Loney, in a 10-pitch at-bat, lined an RBI double to left center that a diving Chris Young nearly snagged. Cook struck out Desmond Jennings and Kelly Johnson, stranding runners at second and third.
"That was a big moment right there," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "We get to second and third, one out, just have to move the baseball right there. ... Loved the fight in the team. It was absolutely great. I thought (Price) was outstanding. We just didn't get the hit when we needed it."
The Rays grabbed a 1-0 lead in the top of the second when No. 9 hitter Yunel Escobar lined an RBI single, scoring Jennings, who had walked. After that, Parker threw five straight shutout innings.
"You're not always going to feel good and right, and today was one of those days," Parker said. "But Suzuki's great at that stuff, just keeping it simple. He comes out and he'll make you laugh, smile. He relaxes you, and that's what I kind of needed today."
The A's struck for three runs in fifth. Leading off, Alberto Callaspo hit a ground ball to Zobrist and wound up at second after Zobrist airmailed his throw to first. The error snapped Zobrist's 81-game errorless streak, a Rays franchise record for second basemen.
After walking Young, Price struck out Brandon Moss looking, but Suzuki sent his first pitch over the wall.
"I don't think he walks Chris Young unless the error is made," Zobrist said. "He was cruising up to that point. I threw it too hard and too high, and it got away from me."
NOTES: Rays RHP Brandon Gomes was recalled from Triple-A Durham. To clear a spot on the 25-man roster for Gomes, the Rays optioned RHP Jake Odorizzi to Double-A Montgomery. ... Rays LHP Matt Moore (left elbow soreness) will be activated from the DL on Sunday and will return to the rotation at some point during the Rays' upcoming four-game series at Anaheim. Moore joined his Rays teammates on Friday in Oakland. ... Oakland C Derek Norris (fractured left big toe) will begin a rehab assignment on Saturday with Triple-A Sacramento at Tacoma. ... A's RF Josh Reddick (sprained right wrist) had a cortisone injection on Wednesday and was wearing a splint on his injured wrist. ... Three minor leaguers -- OF Delmon Young, RHP Josh Lueke and C Chris Gimenez -- will join the Rays in Oakland on Saturday and be activated Sunday when rosters expand. DH Luke Scott (lower back spasms) will be evaluated by the team's medical staff on Saturday in Oakland to see whether he's healthy enough to be activated from the DL on Sunday.

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