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Athletics slip past Rays 2-1

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OAKLAND, Calif. (AP)

Sonny Gray is making the adjustments and turning into a quality starter in just his first month in the big leagues. It's something Stephen Vogt can appreciate.

Coco Crisp had three hits - including a home run - and drove in two runs, Gray threw 6 2-3 stellar innings, and the Oakland Athletics beat the Tampa Bay Rays 2-1 on Saturday night.

''Sonny is fun to watch I don't care who you are,'' said Vogt, who hit a triple and scored Oakland's first run. ''It's more than the way he pitches. It's the way he bounces off the mound and fields his position. I've been fortunate to have a front row seat for many of his starts. He's an electric pitcher.''

Gray (2-2) allowed five hits, walked one and struck out seven and the A's won their fifth in six games to remain two games behind Texas in the AL West.

''The big thing was my fastball command,'' Gray said. I was able to keep it down. In my last start I was elevating it. Keeping it down was big.''

James Loney had two hits for the Rays, who lost for the sixth time in seven games and fell 4 1/2 games behind the Boston Red Sox in the AL East.

The A's and Rays are the top two teams in the AL wild-card race.

''Offensively we have to stir it up,'' Rays manager Joe Maddon said. ''We've pitched well and caught it but we haven't hit well. The offense has to pick it up. We've got a lot of it in place; we just need to get it going.''

Alex Cobb (8-3) lost for the first time since April 30 despite allowing two runs and five hits. He walked four and struck out seven.

''I felt great the whole game,'' Cobb said. ''Obviously the home run to Coco was tough. He's owned me throughout my career. I have to find a new way to pitch to him.''

Grant Balfour pitched the ninth, giving up an RBI single to Desmond Jennings, for his 35th save in 37 chances.

Gray retired 11 of the first 12 batters he faced, striking out five of the first six.

Cobb set down 12 in a row after giving up a single and walk to the first two hitters he faced. He had five strikeouts in the first two innings.

Vogt hit his first career triple leading off the sixth. Crisp followed with a sharp single up the middle against a drawn-in infield.

Matt Joyce led off the seventh with a single but was erased on Wil Myers' double play grounder. When Loney followed with a single, Sean Doolitte replaced Gray, who received a standing ovation from the sellout crowd.

''These fans are awesome,'' Gray said. ''I've always loved pitching at home.''

Gray has allowed two earned runs in 21 2-3 innings (0.83 ERA) in Oakland.

Doolittle got three outs and Dan Otero struck out Evan Longoria with a runner at second to end the eighth.

NOTES: RHP Jamey Wright (2-2, 2.97) was announced as Sunday's starter for the Rays. He'll be making his first start since 2007. RHP A.J. Griffin (11-9, 3.94) will start for the A's. ... The Rays brought OF Delmon Young, RHP Josh Lueke and C Chris Gimenez to Oakland and will activate the trio on Sunday, when rosters expand. ... Rays OF Luke Scott (back spasms) was evaluated before the game and cleared to play Sunday. ... RHP Jeremy Hellickson threw a bullpen session and reported no problems. He'll be activated on Tuesday.. ... The Rays failed to score at least 100 runs in a month for the first time since July 2009. ... A's C John Jaso (concussion) has been playing catch and running. ... A's OF Josh Reddick wore a Georgia football helmet and jersey for pre-game drills.

Tagged: Athletics, Rays, Coco Crisp

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