Gomes and the Oakland Athletics try to wrap up this three-game series between AL wild-card frontrunners Saturday with back-to-back wins ahead of a rare Sunday off in the thick of the pennant race.
Gomes broke into the majors with the Rays, whom he played for from 2003-08. Over the course of stops in Cincinnati and Washington before arriving in Oakland this year, Gomes has proven to be a difficult out for Rays pitchers, going 10 for 29 with three homers and two doubles while hitting safely in all eight games versus Tampa Bay (70-56).
The left fielder provided the decisive blow in Oakland's 5-4 win Friday night, snapping a 3-all tie with a two-run homer in the eighth before another former Rays player - closer Grant Balfour - survived a shaky ninth for his 13th save.
The win allowed Oakland (68-57) to remain tied with Baltimore for the second wild-card spot, while Tampa Bay - atop the wild-card race - dropped 3 1/2 games behind New York in the AL East."That's how close games are won, with a bloop and a blast," Gomes said. "I don't get that at-bat without (Chris) Carter's bloop (single)."
Playing at Tropicana Field has suited Gomes with the A's, as he's gone 6 for 13 with two homers and two doubles in four games."I've always had a lot of respect for Jon Gomes," Maddon said. "He's a good baseball player. The guy cares. Jon came out on top tonight."
Brandon McCarthy (6-5, 3.16 ERA) wouldn't mind being the beneficiary of support by Gomes, but he's also trying to avoid losing three consecutive starts for the first time in his career. The right-hander was clearly frustrated after his loss Monday versus Minnesota, and with good reason - he gave up a season-worst six runs in 3 1-3 innings of the 7-2 defeat.
"I was horrible in the bullpen and had nothing at any point," he told the MLB.com website. "I was a mess, from beginning to end. It's been a long time since I had a day like this, where you just want a rewind button in the first inning and start over."
McCarthy is 0-2 with a 6.19 ERA in three starts since missing more than two months with a strained throwing shoulder. He dominated Tampa Bay twice last year, though, allowing one run in 16 innings over an 11-day span to improve to 3-2 lifetime against the Rays.
Friday's loss was a rare off night for Tampa Bay's pitchers, who allowed five or more runs for only the sixth time in 40 games since the All-Star break. Ben Zobrist and B.J. Upton each had two hits and an RBI for the Rays, who lost for the fourth time in 18 games."It really was frustrating," Maddon said. "That's a game we normally win. I've got to give Oakland a lot of credit. Oakland is really playing well."
Tampa Bay will attempt to regroup behind Jeremy Hellickson (8-8, 3.28), who has been sharp in splitting his last two outings - giving up two runs and 11 hits in 14 innings. He limited Kansas City to one run in seven innings of a 5-1 victory to end a personal six-game losing streak at home for his first win at Tropicana Field since May 16.
The right-hander battled control problems May 5 in his lone career outing versus Oakland, giving up three runs and five hits while walking three in 3 2-3 innings in Tampa Bay's 4-3, 12-inning defeat.
The rare Saturday end to the series is because Tropicana Field is being used as a venue for the Republican National Convention.
|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) -- The first leg of the Oakland Athletics ' seven-game road trip went just fine.
Brandon McCarthy pitched seven solid innings and Oakland beat the Tampa Bay Rays 4-2 on Saturday.
Chris Carter and Seth Smith homered for the Athletics, who took two of three from Tampa Bay and moved within a half-game of the AL wild card-leading Rays. Oakland has won eight of 10 to go a season-high 12 games over .500.
"I think we just keep proving that we're not a fluke," McCarthy said.
The Athletics lost 5-0 in the series opener on Thursday, then rebounded for a 5-4 win on Friday. They open a four-game series at Cleveland on Monday night.
"This isn't the easiest place to play, and it ended up being a real good series for us," Oakland manager Bob Melvin said.
McCarthy (7-5) allowed two runs and four hits while improving to 9-0, including three wins this season, against AL East teams over 14 starts since 2009. The right-hander was coming off a rough start last Monday when he gave up six runs and 10 hits over 3 1-3 innings in a loss to Minnesota.
"I thought it was quite the recovery for him," Melvin said.
After Sean Doolittle struck out two during a perfect eighth, Grant Balfour got the final three outs for his 14th save.
"It's obviously a big series for us momentum-wise," Athletics right fielder Josh Reddick said.
The Rays dropped to 16-7 in August.
"I give Oakland a lot of credit," Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon said. "You can't take anything away from what they're doing. They're playing good baseball. They're playing with a lot of energy so I give them credit. But we have to be better."
Carter hit a two-run shot off Jeremy Hellickson (8-9), helping Oakland take a 3-0 lead in the first. Coco Crisp scored the first run of the game from third when catcher Jose Lobaton made an errant throw to second on Stephen Drew 's stolen base.
"I could have got out of it ... it's pretty frustrating," Hellickson said.
Smith put the Athletics up 4-1 with his 12th homer in the third.
The Rays loaded the bases with no outs during the second, but only managed one run on Lobaton's sacrifice fly. They also got a solo homer from Desmond Jennings in the fifth.
Hellickson yielded six hits, struck out five and walked none in five innings.
Tampa Bay reliever J.P. Howell extended his team-record shutout streak to 26 2-3 consecutive innings after pitching a scoreless seventh.
Both teams will have a rare Sunday off because Tropicana Field is one of the venues being used for the Republican National Convention.
According to the Rays, Oakland and Seattle did not play the first Sunday this season (April 8) due in part to opening the regular season in Japan. Before that, the last time there wasn't a game scheduled on a Sunday was Sept. 10, 1995, when San Diego and St. Louis were off because of a scheduling conflict with the NFL's St. Louis Rams at Busch Stadium.
NOTES: Reddick, who began the day mired in 14-for-94 slide, was dropped from third to sixth in the lineup. "Anytime a guy goes through some struggles, you want to change it up a little bit," Melvin said. "We expect him back in the three-spot before long." Reddick went 3 for 4, including a double. ... Hellickson threw 41 pitches in the first. ... Carter has hit eight of 11 homers this season on the road. ... The Rays allowed four or more runs in consecutive games for the first time since July 7-8 against Cleveland.