Back-to-back smashes lead A’s past Rays

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Just when it seemed the A’s had their backs to the wall, they went back-to-back — over the wall — and that sudden turnaround produced a 4-3 victory against the Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday night at Tropicana Field.

The A’s hit consecutive sixth-inning home runs off Rays reliever Emilio Pagan, first a two-run go-ahead shot by Matt Olson, then a solo shot from Khris Davis.

That ultimately made a winner out of right-hander Mike Fiers (6-3), who allowed just three hits and retired the last seven batters he faced. Fiers was followed by three relievers, including closer Blake Treinen, who made the ninth inning interesting by issuing a four-pitch walk to Brandon Lowe, then going 2-0 to Yandy Diaz.

Treinen settled down to strike out Diaz and get a grounder from Ji-Man Choi, but Willy Adames made it a one-run game with a two-out RBI single. Kevin Kiermaier was then retired on a game-ending grounder to Olson at first.

The A’s are back at .500 (34-34) and now can clinch a winning record for the three-city, 10-game road trip by defeating the Rays on Wednesday afternoon.

The Rays, who utilized “opener” Ryne Stanek (one scoreless inning) and bulk pitcher Jalen Beeks (an unearned run over four innings), entered the sixth nursing a 2-1 lead. With one out against Pagan, Matt Chapman bounced a routine grounder in the hole to Adames at shortstop. The throw was bounced to first baseman Choi, who kept his foot on the bag, but bobbled the ball during his stretch.

Olson followed with a two-run homer on Pagan’s 2-0 pitching, providing the A’s their first lead of the series at 3-2. On Pagan’s second pitch to Davis, it was another homer.

From the fifth inning onward, Fiers and the A’s bullpen — Liam Hendricks and Lou Trivino — retired 13 consecutive Rays batters. Seven of those outs came by strikeout.

The Rays opened scoring on Tommy Pham’s first-inning solo home. They pulled ahead 2-0 while executing a double steal with two outs in the fourth inning. With runners on first and third, Kiermaier broke for second and the throw by catcher Josh Phegley was off-line, allowing Adames to come home without a challenge.

Then the game turned quickly.

The A’s got one run back in the fifth. Jurickson Profar led off with a single, then moved to second on Mike Zunino’s passed ball. One out later, Chad Pinder collected an RBI single, making it 2-1.

After a sixth-inning power surge — and late-game shutdown pitching by most of the bullpen — the A’s grabbed momentum and kept it for good.

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Source:: The Mercury News – Sports


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