OAKLAND -– The A’s began the bottom of the seventh with a comedy of base running errors, but then got serious swinging the bat.
They batted around in a seven-run rally that turned a one-run deficit into a runaway 8-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays, helping them avoid a weekend sweep.
Mark Canha continued his recent tear of late with four RBI, including a three-run triple to highlight that seven-run outburst, which tied for Oakland's highest-scoring inning of the season.
Sean Doolittle made his first appearance for the A’s since May 27 and showed rust over two-thirds of an inning. He walked two and was charged with both runs as the Rays took a 2-1 lead in the top of the seventh. But Doolittle’s teammates got him off the hook for the loss.
They sent 12 men to the plate in the bottom of the seventh -- an inning that seemed like it might be marked by the A’s gaffes on the base paths. Stephen Vogt was easily thrown out at home trying to score from second on Brett Lawrie’s game-tying RBI single. Then Lawrie ran through a stop sign by third base coach Mike Gallego as he tried to score from first on Billy Butler’s double to right. Lawrie appeared hung out to dry until Rays catcher Rene Rivera couldn’t handle the relay throw home, allowing him to scramble back to third.
Eric Sogard followed with a two-run single that snapped a 2-2 tie, and the A’s were on their way.
Starting pitching report
Kendall Graveman certainly pitched well enough to snap a seven-start winless streak. That he was pulled after 84 pitches, and six scoreless innings, suggests that either A) the A’s had it planned to limit his pitch count to give him a break this late in the season, or B) something was bothering him physically. Graveman stumbled awkwardly over the mound when Grady Sizemore shot a single back up the middle in the sixth, but stayed in to complete that inning. He held the Rays to three hits over six innings, striking out three and walking one. It was a tough break for him to walk away with a no-decision. Graveman hasn’t won since July 4.
The A’s managed to halt an Oakland-record 16-game streak in which they had allowed at least one home run.
Doolittle entered to a big ovation to start the top of the seventh, just his second appearance of the regular season after shoulder problems sidelined him twice. He didn’t have great command, issuing the two walks along with Asdrubal Cabrera’s single and Desmond Jennings’ sacrifice fly that tied the game, 1-1. Doolittle’s fastball topped out at 93 and generally sat in the 91-92 range.
Fernando Rodriguez (3-1) gave up Rivera’s go-ahead single but didn’t allow further damage over 1 1/3 innings. Fernando Abad finished it out in the ninth.
At the plate
Until they rallied in the seventh, the A’s did their best to run themselves out of every advantageous scoring situation they encountered. Billy Burns strayed too far off second base in the sixth when James Loney misplayed Josh Reddick’s grounder to first, and that led to Sam Fuld getting tagged out in a rundown between third and home to end the inning.
But they made up for it in a big way with their seven-run, go-ahead rally in the seventh, which was fueled by seven hits. Canha, playing regularly at first with Ike Davis out with a season-ending injury, is hitting .435 (20-for-46) with 11 RBI over his past 12 games. He’s showing the ability to drive the ball up the middle and to the opposite field, and is emerging as a big late-season bright spot.
In the field
The Rays committed two errors in the sixth but wound up not paying for it. The A’s turned in an errorless game and made all the plays behind Graveman and three relievers.
The announced turnout was 19,425.
The A’s begin a six-game road trip in Seattle, where they’ll play three against the Mariners. In Monday’s 7:10 p.m. opener, Felix Doubront (1-1, 3.89) matches up against Hisashi Iwakuma (5-2, 3.74). Jesse Chavez (7-12, 3.75) goes against lefty Mike Montgomery (4-6, 4.16) in Tuesday’s 7:10 p.m. game. The series concludes with a 12:40 matinee Wednesday, as Chris Bassitt (1-5, 2.48) takes the ball against Felix Hernandez (14-8, 3.74).