August 25, 2012; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Jeremy Hellickson (58) talks with pitching coach Jim Hickey (48), third baseman Evan Longoria (3), catcher Jose Lobaton (21) and first baseman Carlos Pena (23) on the mound in the second inning against the Oakland Athletics at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE

Game 127: Homers Down Hellickson as Rays Lose Series to A's

In his last two starts, Jeremy Hellickson has now struck out 11 while walking 1 in 12 innings. But the difference this time around was two Oakland Athletics home runs and the Rays’ offense was unable to overcome Hellickson’s poor outing as the A’s won 4-2.

The Athletics tagged Hellickson for 3 runs in the first inning, and the Rays were demoralized from the start. The A’s had 1st and 3rd with no outs after a Coco Crisp double and a Stephen Drew single to begin the game before Hellickson rebounded by getting Yoennis Cespedes to pop out. Then, on a 3-2 pitch to Seth Smith, Drew broke for second and Jose Lobaton‘s throw went into the outfield, scoring Crisp to make it 1-0 A’s and putting Drew on 3rd. Hellicskon struck out Smith on the pitch and was 1 out away from escaping the jam having allowed just one run, but he left his first-pitch changeup to Chris Carter up in the zone and Carter slammed a 2-run homer into the left field seats and suddenly the A’s led 3-0.

The Rays looked to tie the game in the 2nd inning after a Luke Scott bunt single with the A’s shifting against him, a Carlos Pena hit-by-pitch, and a Ryan Roberts single gave them the bases loaded with nobody out. Lobaton then gained a measure of redemption for his error with a sac fly to make it 3-1. But Desmond Jennings flied out and Sam Fuld struck out as the Rays stranded a pair of runners. The Rays then lost any momentum they may have gained when Seth Smith slammed a solo homer off Hellickson leading off the 3rd to make it 4-1 Oakland. The Rays got the run back in the 5th on a Desmond Jennings solo homer, but they managed nothing else the rest of the game as the game’s 4-2 score after 5 innings was also the final.

Hellickson went 5 innings allowing 4 runs on 6 hits, striking out 5 while walking none but allowing the 2 home runs. Hellickson’s bread-and-butter changeup was a little off at times over the course of his outing, specifically on the Carter home run, and unlike his last start, his curveball was a pitch that he struggled to control, throwing it for strikes just 9 of the 19 times he threw it. Brandon McCarthy went 7 innings for Oakland allowing 2 runs on 4 hits, striking out 7 while walking 2.

The Rays bullpen was great in the game, combining for 4 shutout innings allowing just 3 hits and no walks while striking out 5, including Jake McGee striking out the side in the 9th, but it was too little, too late as the Rays lost 4-2. McCarthy (7-5) was the winner, Hellickson (8-9) took the loss, and ex-Ray Grant Balfour nailed down his 14th save. It was a tough loss for the Rays as they lost 2 of 3 to the Oakland Athletics saw their lead in the AL Wild Card fall to just half a game over the A’s and 1 game over the Baltimore Orioles. The Rays have a bizarre Sunday off-day thanks to rescheduling to work around the Republican National Convention in Tampa and will resume play on Monday against the Texas Rangers in a crucial 3-game set as they look to get back on track.

Tags: Brandon McCarthy Jeremy Hellickson Tampa Bay Rays

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