Brandon Moss’ heroics during the Detroit series overshadowed what Jed Lowrie was doing with the bat.
But the A’s switch-hitting shortstop has been on a quiet tear himself. On Friday, he delivered a go-ahead double in the eighth inning that was the difference maker in the A’s 4-3 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays in the opener of an important three-game series at the Coliseum.
Oakland had coughed up a lead for the second time in three games in the top of the eighth when the Rays scored twice off A’s reliever Ryan Cook to make it a 3-3 game. It conjured up unpleasant memories from just a day earlier, when closer Grant Balfour couldn’t hold a three-run lead against the Tigers.
This time, the A’s provided a happier ending. Coco Crisp led off the bottom of the eighth with a single. After he moved to second on Josh Donaldson’s groundout, Lowrie drilled a 2-0 pitch from reliever Joel Peralta for an RBI double down the right field line.
Moss had four homers and 10 RBI in the Tiger series. Lowrie’s production has been quieter but very impressive.
His double was his major league-leading 13th double in August. That also set a new Oakland record for most doubles in August. He has 40 doubles on the season, most ever for an A’s switch hitter.
Balfour exorcised some demons by nailing down his 34th save. He allowed a walk but get Ben Zobrist to ground out to shortstop to end it after his tortuous ninth inning in Detroit the day before.
Starting pitching report
Jarrod Parker was charged with three runs over seven innings. He was in line for the victory, but he put two runners on to start the eighth and was pulled in favor of Ryan Cook. Parker walked two in the second, when he gave up a run to put the Rays up 1-0. But Parker settled in after that.
He tied Catfish Hunter’s record with his 17th straight start without taking a loss.
Cook allowed the tying runs after entering in the eighth to protect a 3-1 lead. But he didn’t pitch horribly. He allowed Evan Longoria’s bloop single to load the bases. Matt Joyce delivered a sacrifice fly and then James Loney battled Cook in a 10-pitch at-bat before doubling in the tying run. Cook then rang up tow strikeouts to escape his jam and prevent further damage.
At the plate
Brandon Moss was 0 for 2 with two strikeouts in his first two at-bats. No. 9 hitter Kurt Suzuki was 2 for 2 with three RBI. Which hitter do you think the Rays spent more time discussing in their advance meeting? All eyes were on Moss to see how he would follow up his monster performance during the Detroit series. It was Suzuki who wound up doing the damage. He smacked a first-pitch changeup from Price and drove it over the left-field wall in the fifth to give the A’s a 3-1 lead. Until then, it was slim pickings for Oakland hitters off Price, who was 7-1 with a 1.97 ERA over his previous 11 starts. The lefty allowed just two base runners over the first four innings.
It’s not often you see a guy have 10 RBI in a series and then bat eighth in the next game. But that’s the position Moss found himself in Friday. A’s manager Bob Melvin stacked eight right-handed hitters in his lineup against Price. The lone left-handed hitter – Moss – dropped four spots from the cleanup spot and Yoenis Cespedes hit fourth.
In the field
Young made a nice diving effort on Loney’s game-tying double and nearly made the catch, but the ball squirted away. The Rays entered the night with just 48 errors, second-fewest in major league history after 132 games. But second baseman Ben Zobrist made a throwing error on Alberto Callaspo’s routine grounder in the fifth and it proved costly. Suzuki would come up three batters later and hit a three-run shot.
The announced crowd of 15,603 watched Dennis Eckersley beat Rollie Fingers in a photo finish during the Saag’s Big-Head Hot Dog race after the sixth inning. Rickey Henderson finished third but still proclaimed himself the greatest of all time.
Sonny Gray (1-2, 3.18) got knocked around for six runs by Baltimore in his last start. He gets a chance to rebound Saturday in a 6:05 p.m. game. Opposing him is right-hander Alex Cobb (8-2, 2.87).