OAKLAND -- Tampa Bay has found a nice little trend to try to wriggle back into the AL East race.
The Rays won three consecutive series on one road trip -- and for the first time ever, they did so against three teams above .500. Tampa Bay wrapped the final series of the trip with a 4-1 victory over the A's at the Oakland Coliseum, cooling off July's hottest team for the second game in a row.
"To beat them here, the Angels there and of course Baltimore, it's pretty spectacular," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "To win each series is about as good as it gets right now."
Alex Cobb followed up James Shields' three-hit shutout Tuesday with a strong effort on Wednesday.
"It's kind of like hitting, it's just a contagious thing," Cobb said. "You see one pitcher doing good and you want to match him. You definitely don't want to be that guy to be the weak link in the rotation. As long as we can keep feeding off each other and throw strikes, we'll be fine."
Cobb (4-6) allowed four hits, one walk and one run in his seven innings. The one run was a homer by Brandon Inge, the first homer ever by a right-handed batter off Cobb. He had not allowed a homer in 219 plate appearances against right-handers.
Inge's homer, which was hit to left field leading off the fifth, extended his hitting streak to 11 games, a team high.
"He did a great job getting strike one all day," Inge said. "All day he was jumping ahead, he was 0-2 on a lot of guys. He was making his pitching and he wasn't giving us anything we could do any damage with. He threw a lot more curveballs. He did good."
Oakland has lost consecutive games for the first time since dropping three in a row to Texas (June 28-30).
"We had a good month, we really did," A's starter Jarrod Parker said. "It's weird for it to be quiet after the game -- we're always playing music. There's not too many times after game where we're not."
Tampa Bay center fielder B.J. Upton provided not one, but two sacrifice bunts -- his first of the season. The first helped the Rays to score their first run of the game off Oakland starter Jarrod Parker. Desmond Jennings singled to open the game, Upton moved him to second, a groundout by Ben Zobrist put him at third and Matt Joyce singled him in.
Ryan Roberts, the Rays' lone acquisition before the deadline, drove in Jeff Keppinger with a base hit in the fourth inning, while Carlos Pena provided an RBI double in the sixth. Pena, the one-time Oakland first baseman, added a solo homer to right off Jordan Norberto in the eighth inning.
Parker (7-5) gave up eight hits, three walks and three runs in six innings. The Oakland rookie had won five of his previous six decisions.
A's right fielder Josh Reddick, the team's top all-around player much of the season, went 0 for 4 to extend his hitless streak to a career-high 21 at-bats. Reddick has not recorded a hit since slamming into the wall in right field making the final out of Friday's game at Baltimore, a play that knocked the wind out of him.
Reddick said that he has had no ill effects from the collision and his slump is simply coincidental.
"Red's going through a difficult time and when it's a guy in the middle of the order, you're going to feel the effects of that," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "He's going through a little bit of a tough period, but he'll get through it."
NOTES: The Rays released designated hitter Hideki Matsui, who had been designated for assignment last week. ... Melvin said that right-hander Brandon McCarthy, who has been out for more than a month with shoulder soreness, will make a second rehab start for Class AAA Sacramento on Saturday. ... Left-hander Brett Anderson will make a rehab start for Sacramento on Sunday. Anderson had Tommy John surgery just over a year ago. He is expected to make at least one more rehab start after that before rejoining the A's. ... Oakland shortstop Cliff Pennington, out since July 20 with a sore left elbow, will take batting practice Thursday and will go on a rehab assignment Friday. ... A's outfielder Coco Crisp did a workout on the field and he might be available to play Thursday, according to manager Bob Melvin. Crisp came out of Saturday's game at Baltimore with left hamstring tightness and has not played since. ... Left-hander Dallas Braden, whose throwing session to hitters last week was cut short by a groin strain, played catch Wednesday and he is likely to throw off the mound again soon. Braden has been sidelined since undergoing left shoulder surgery in May 2011.