The Tampa Bay Rays have played so well recently it's hard to believe their lineup failed to produce a base runner a little over a week ago.
Inching closer to the top of the AL East, Tampa Bay seeks to stay hot Friday night when it hosts the Oakland Athletics , who are part of a three-way tie for the league's second wild-card spot.
The Rays have been on a roll since being the victim of Felix Hernandez 's perfect game Aug. 15, winning seven of eight after Thursday's 5-0 win over Oakland.
The victory pulled wild card-leading Tampa Bay (70-55) within 2 1/2 games of the idle New York Yankees for the division lead as it's gained 4 1/2 games in eight days.
"We did a great job of putting together some hits, and usually when you string together some hits, some runs follow," Joyce told the team's official website. "That's going to be our key, to string together those hits."
Tampa Bay's pitching has put together a string of solid outings, too, posting a 1.90 ERA over its last 12 contests, and Matt Moore has contributed to that stellar number.
Moore (10-7, 3.57 ERA) is 4-0 with a 1.16 ERA over his last five starts after allowing two runs in 6 1-3 innings of his 8-3 win over the Los Angeles Angels on Sunday. The left-hander hasn't given up more than two runs in any of his last seven outings.
Moore, though, had one of the worst starts of his career the last time he faced Oakland, giving up eight runs in 4 2-3 innings of a 9-5 loss May 6.
Oakland's offense, however, mustered only four hits after winning six of its previous seven. The A's (67-57) fell into a tie with Baltimore and Detroit for the AL's second wild-card spot, 2 1/2 games behind the Rays.
Stephen Drew snapped a 0-for-19 slump by going 2 for 3 with a double in his second game for Oakland, which was shut out for the league-worst 15th time."We've started to figure out the personnel better here, which enables us for the most part to combat (being shut out)," manager Bob Melvin said. "We do every now and then have a game like this currently where we get shut out. I don't see us a team that has been shut out that many times."
The A's will look to bounce back behind Jarrod Parker (8-7, 3.48), who is coming off one of his best outings of the year. He busted out of his slump by allowing six hits in eight innings of a 7-0 win over Cleveland on Sunday.
Parker went 0-3 with a 6.85 ERA over his previous four starts.
"He was outstanding," Melvin said. "After a rough start, he was on cruise control. His ball was coming out of his hand well, and you know the potentially poor period he was having is over now."
The right-hander had a decent outing against Tampa Bay on Aug. 1, allowing three runs in six innings of a 4-1 loss in his only career start versus the Rays.
Tampa Bay has won three straight meetings after dropping five of the previous six.
|August 18, 2012||Jordan Norberto||15-Day DL||Left shoulder tendinitis|
|August 12, 2012||Brandon Inge||15-Day DL||Dislocated right shoulder|
|August 12, 2012||Brandon Inge||Day-to-Day||Dislocated right shoulder|
|August 07, 2012||Eric Sogard||15-Day DL||Strained back|
|August 05, 2012||A.J. Griffin||15-Day DL||Strained right shoulder|
|August 04, 2012||A.J. Griffin||Day-to-Day||Sore right shoulder|
|Tampa Bay Rays|
|August 05, 2012||Ben Zobrist||Day-to-Day||Left game - upper back spasms|
|July 21, 2012||Luke Scott||15-Day DL||Right oblique strain|
|July 21, 2012||Luke Scott||15-Day DL||Right oblique strain|
|July 21, 2012||Alex Cobb||Day-to-Day||Left game - right knee contusion|
|July 02, 2012||Hideki Matsui||Day-to-Day||Left game - left hamstring tightness|
|June 30, 2012||Jeremy Hellickson||Day-to-Day||Left game - bruised right shin|
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) -- Jonny Gomes changed the game in a hurry for the Oakland Athletics .
"That's how close games are won, with a bloop and a blast," Gomes said Friday night after his two-run home run off Joel Peralta in the eighth inning lifted the A's to a 5-4 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays .
"I don't get that at-bat without (Chris) Carter's bloop (single)."
Chris Carter 's two-out hit off Peralta (1-6) set up Gomes' game-winning blast that broke a 3-3 tie and sent the Rays to their second loss in eight games, dropping them 3 1/2 games behind the first-place New York Yankees in the American League East.
The A's remained tied for the second wild-card spot after winning for the seventh time in nine games.
"I think we're pretty hot, too," said Oakland starter Jarrod Parker , who went six innings for the A's, giving up seven hits and three runs while striking out seven.
"When we're able to come into this game and battle and just face people blow-for-blow, it's fun. Jonny came up with a huge hit. We battled all game and just kept at it."
Ryan Cook (6-2) earned the win in relief.
Luke Scott 's pinch-hit double got a run back for the Rays in the ninth before Grant Balfour finished for his 13th save.
Gomes, who played for the Rays from 2003-2008, has hit safely in all eight of his games against his former team with three homers in 26 at-bats. It was his 15th home run of the season.
Ben Zobrist 's 15th home run opened the scoring for Tampa Bay, but Yoenis Cespedes ' triple keyed a two-run fourth inning for Oakland. The inning ended when Josh Donaldson was caught trying to steal home with the bases loaded.
"I don't know what to say about that one," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "No one has the green light at third, let's put it that way.
"It's a play where if you make it, everybody loves you. If not ... there you have it."
The Rays also failed to convert a bases-loaded situation. Leading 3-2 in the sixth, they had runners on first and second with two outs when Ryan Roberts drove a single up the middle. But Evan Longoria was held up at third base, and Parker struck out Jose Molina to end the threat.
Rays manager Joe Maddon said that Longoria was stopped by third-base coach Tom Foley because of new "Longo Rules" that discourage base running chances that might cause Longoria to reinjure his hamstring.
"It really was frustrating. That's a game we normally win," Maddon said. "I've got to give Oakland a lot of credit. Oakland is really playing well. It's very similar to our group of players. They're no fluke. You've got to bring your `A' game to beat them."
Rays starter Matt Moore struck out seven in 6 1/3 innings. He gave up three earned runs and seven hits.
NOTES: The three-game series will conclude Saturday afternoon because Tropicana Field will be used as a venue for the Republican National Convention. ... The A's purchased the contract of right-hander Jesse Chavez from the Toronto Blue Jays on Friday. The 29-year-old Chavez split this season between Toronto and Triple-A Las Vegas, going 1-1 with an 8.44 ERA in two starts and seven relief appearances for the Blue Jays. ... Oakland recalled right-hander Jim Miller from Triple-A Sacramento and optioned pitcher Tyson Ross to the Pacific Coast League club. ... Oakland manager Bob Melvin said INF Brandon Inge (sprained right shoulder) , who is on a minor league rehab assignment with Triple-A Sacramento, is scheduled to play defense Friday and Saturday and then have his status evaluated.