ST. PETERSBURG, Florida (Ticker) -- With
on the shelf for the
is continuing to show his worth.
Lilly tossed six solid innings and
had two hits and an RBI as the Athletics snapped a two-game skid with a 3-1 triumph over the
Tampa Bay Devil Rays
Mulder, one of Oakland's three top starters, was in the midst of another strong campaign before suffering a season-ending hip injury. With 2002 Cy Young Award winner
struggling at the time, the Athletics were in desperate need of a starter they could count on behind the steady
Lilly (9-9) has answered the call, going 2-0 in three starts since Mulder's injury. In this one, the lefthander allowed a run and four hits with two walks and seven strikeouts.
"I have been pitching very well the last few games," Lilly said. "I've been throwing more strikes and I've had good command of my fastball and slider. I will be more successful as long as I am keeping the ball down and changing speeds well."
While picking up his third straight win, Lilly improved to 4-0 in seven career appearances against against Tampa Bay.
"He gave a great performance tonight, especially in the first and third innings with runners on," Oakland manager
said. "This is three good starts in a row for him. He has had good command of his slider and offspeed pitch and has been keeping the ball out of the middle of the plate."
With Oakland clinging to a 2-1 lead in the seventh, Hernandez gave the bullpen some breathing room with a sacrifice fly. Hernandez, who also singled and doubled, is fourth among American League catchers with 69 RBI.
retired all four batters he faced to notch his 39th save.
(6-8) dropped his third straight decision, surrendering three runs and nine hits in 6 1/3 innings. The righthander, who fell to 0-2 lifetime against Oakland, walked three and struck out one.
The win was the 11th in 13 games for the Athletics, who have been victorious in 16 of their last 19 contests at Tropicana Field and have won the last six meetings with the
"We are confident against anyone and we have a record to prove it," A's second baseman
After wasting three hits in the first inning, Oakland grabbed a 1-0 lead in the second.
led off with a single and
drew a one-out walk.
lined out, but Ellis ripped a run-scoring double to left.
With one out in the third,
walked before Hernandez and Hatteberg singled to load the bases.
, who was handed a four-game suspension by Major League Baseball earlier in the day, followed with a sacrifice fly for a 2-0 advantage.
belted his career-high 11th homer with two outs in the bottom of the inning to draw the
within a run. But with the bases loaded and one out in the seventh, Hernandez lifted a sacrifice fly off
to restore Oakland's two-run cushion.
Tampa Bay threatened against Lilly in the first as
led off with a double and took third on a sacrifice. But Lilly retired rookie
to escape unscathed.
In the fifth,
led off with a double and
walked before Crawford grounded into a double play and Lugo struck out.
"Antonio just can't run into a tag at second base," Tampa Bay manager
said. "There's just no way they are going to double Carl, he's got to hang. If the ball goes to first, you have got to go to second. If they throw to second, you're out and Carl's at first."
Crawford generated another scoring chance in the eighth, when he drew a leadoff walk from
and stole second. But Lugo struck out, Baldelli grounded out and Foulke came on and fanned Huff, who had a 13-game hitting streak halted.
"He is a good pitcher," Macha said of Foulke. "I called down to the bullpen and asked if he had more than an inning and he replied, 'I have whatever you need.'"
"We've got to figure out a way to score some runs off this team," Piniella said. "They've got good pitching. It starts with that. They throw strikes. They just outpitched us tonight."