Coming off a brutal road trip where they went 2-7, the Rays needed a positive start to their brief six game home stand. In their way were the Oakland A’s, currently the best team in the American League.
Alex Cobb got off to a rough start, giving up a leadoff double to Coco Crisp, who moved to third on a long fly ball that Ben Zobrist tracked down. Following a walk, Jed Lowrie drove in the first run of the game with a base hit up the middle. Brandon Moss followed with a long single to drive in another run, but got caught heading back to first after he didn’t notice that Lowrie had stopped at second. Cobb settled in from that point, and escaped the threat.
The Rays offense responded in the bottom of the frame. Desmond Jennings walked, advancing to second on a groundout, and scored on an RBI single by Zobrist. Following a two out walk, Sean Rodriguez singled, driving in Zobrist to tie the game. After an infield hit loaded the bases, Jose Lobaton came through with the first Rays hit of the year in that situation, driving in two runs to put Tampa on top 4-2. A’s starter Brett Anderson would record the final out, but left the game with a sprained ankle. He gave up the four runs on four hits and two walks.
Tampa’s offense continued their surge. Shelley Duncan led off the third with a double in the gap to left center, and scored on Ryan Roberts‘ single. The Rays tacked on three more runs in the fourth, highlighted by a two run home run from Evan Longoria to go ahead 8-2.
Cobb, over his first inning struggles, held down the A’s lineup the rest of the way, allowing a solo home run to Crisp as the only other run allowed. He ended up pitching 7.1 strong innings, allowing three runs on ten hits and a walk while recording three strikeouts. It may not have been the cleanest performance, but after the Rays recent struggles, it was more than enough. The A’s threatened to cut the lead in the top of the ninth, after Fernando Rodney walked the first two batters he faced to load the bases, but he struck out John Jaso, then induced Seth Smith to ground into a double play to end the threat and close out the 8-3 victory.
Zobrist and Roberts each had two hits in the victory, as every Rays starter reached base. James Loney came in as a pinch hitter, and got a hit in his only at bat. He has gone 7-9 over the past three games, raising his batting average from .167 to .308.