ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Tampa Bay got the win it needed and Oakland might have taken a loss it cannot afford.
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 on Friday night at Tropicana Field.
The loss could be even greater for the AL West-leading A's. Injury-prone ace Brett Anderson left after one inning with a sprained right ankle. He will be re-evaluated on Saturday.
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, allowing three runs and 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 and 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 ground ball, 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 score 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.
"We did have several tough losses," Rays manager Joe Maddon said, referring to three walk-off defeats on the road trip. "But we came out today. Furthermore, Oakland gets right on top of us 2-0, which makes it even more difficult."
Anderson (1-3) did not return for the second after landing awkwardly.
"I don't know if my heel hit too hard and jarred something in there or what," he said of the next-to-last pitch of the inning.
Anderson, who was charged with four earned runs and four hits with two walks, said the ankle was "a little swollen" after stiffening up after the first, but he did not wear a brace after the game.
He appeared dejected at what he described as his latest bout with "another fluke deal" and was disappointed at the predicament it created for the A's.
"Kind of depressing and embarrassing, for the fact that for the first handful of starts I haven't been able to talk about pitching," he said. "It's always been health or whatever.
"Obviously, to start off this road trip, you want your number one guy to go out there and log some innings. It's kind of disheartening for the team to go out there and throw one inning and put your bullpen in jeopardy for the rest of the series or rest of the road trip. Not a great day overall."
Manager Bob Melvin said Anderson would be re-evaluated on Saturday and it was unclear whether he would miss time.
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 homer by Longoria -- his fourth home run of the season -- increased the lead to 8-2.
Coco Crisp (2 for 4) doubled leading off the A's first 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.
"I think he just assumed that Jed was at third," Melvin said. "He must have head his head down when he was running."
Cobb allowed just five more singles until Crisp hit a two-out solo homer (his fifth) in the seventh.
"We expect to make it to the playoffs and beyond, so expectations in this locker room are extremely high," Cobb said. "Those kind of road trips, those kind of streaks are going to happen throughout the course of the year to every team. Ours happening early in the year. Hopefully, it's behind us."
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. He is batting .392 with 13 extra-base hits during the streak. ... Lowrie matched a career-high with four hits. ... 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 A's had not allowed a hit with the baseballs loaded the season (opponents were 0 for 12 with a walk) and the Rays were the only team hitless with them loaded (0 for 12, two walks) until Lobaton first-inning single. ... Maddon has used 14 different lineups in 16 games.