ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Alex Cobb endured a rough first inning but settled in to dominate the American League team with the best record as the previously struggling Tampa Bay Rays thumped the Oakland Athletics, 8-3, at Tropicana Field on Friday.
The loss could be even greater for the American League West-leading A's, as starter Brett Anderson left after one inning with what was deemed as a sprained right ankle.
Oakland (12-5), which had won three straight and was 6-0 on the road before Friday, seemed ready to pick up its winning routine in the first against a Rays team coming off a 2-7 road trip,.
But Cobb got stronger after a Brandon Moss base-running gaffe limited the A's to two first-inning runs.
Cobb improved to 2-1 after allowing three runs on 10 hits in 7 1/3 innings. Ben Zobrist went 2-for-4 and knocked in two runs and Evan Longoria hit a two-run homer.
Jed Lowrie went 4-for-4 for Oakland.
Tampa Bay (6-10) responded to a first-inning A's outburst with four runs on four hits in the bottom of the first, three coming with two outs. Desmond Jennings led off with a walk and took second on a groundball, scoring on a Zobrist single to trim the deficit to 2-1.
After a Longoria strikeout, Shelley Duncan walked and Sean Rodriguez followed with an RBI single to tie the game, 2-2. Ryan Roberts beat out an infield single up the middle before Jose Lobaton flicked a two-run single to left. Tampa Bay did not trail thereafter.
Anderson (1-3) did not return for the second inning. He was charged with four earned runs on four hits with two walks in 36 pitches.
Tampa Bay increased the lead to 5-2 in the third on Roberts' RBI single, scoring Duncan, who led off with a double. An RBI single by Zobrist and a two-run home run by Longoria - his fourth of the season - increased the lead to 8-2.
Coco Crisp (2-for-4) doubled leading off the A's first inning and scored from third - after a John Jaso flyout - on Lowrie's single to center. Moss followed with an RBI single to the left-field corner - scoring Seth Smith, who had walked - but didn't notice Lowrie had remained at second base. Moss was tagged out between first and second to quiet the rally. Cobb allowed just five more singles until Crisp hit a two-out solo homer (his fifth) in the seventh.
NOTES: Anderson, the Athletics' Opening Day starter, was making his fourth start this year after returning from Tommy John surgery that cost most of his 2012 season. The left-hander made six starts late last summer before a right oblique strain ended his season. ... Moss returned after missing games on Tuesday and Wednesday because of the birth of a child. ... Crisp extended his hitting streak to 12 games when he doubled on the first pitch from Cobb. ... With a fourth-inning homer, Longoria has reached base in 30 consecutive games, the second-longest streak of his career (32 in 2010). He entered the game as one of six to reach in each of his team's games this season. ... The Rays are in a stretch of nine consecutive games against 2012 playoff teams (Orioles, A's, Yankees). ... Rays manager Joe Maddon has used 14 different lineups in 16 games.