Rays get series win vs. A’s to keep wild-card hopes alive
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — The Oakland Athletics missed out this weekend on gaining ground to host the AL wild-card game.
Khris Davis hit a grand slam in the ninth inning but the Athletics again came up short, beaten by the Tampa Bay Rays 5-4 on Sunday.
“It was good to see on a day that looks like we’re dragging a little bit or a little bit flat to be able to put up a four-spot like that,” Oakland manager Bob Melvin said.
The A’s remained 1 ½ games behind the New York Yankees for the top AL wild-card spot. Oakland lost for the second straight day at Tropicana Field — the Yankees fell to Toronto both days.
Oakland dropped 4 ½ games behind AL West-leading Houston, which beat Arizona.
Tampa Bay trails Oakland by seven games with 14 games left.
C.J. Cron and Willy Adames homered off A’s starter Mike Fiers. Eight Tampa Bay pitchers combined on a four-hitter.
“Oakland came in here as hot as any team and we pitched like we needed to,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said.
Down 5-0, the A’s loaded the bases with no outs in the ninth on three walks by Jake Faria. After Jose Alvarado struck out Jed Lowrie, Sergio Romo allowed Davis’ major league-leading and career-high tying 43rd homer before getting the final two outs for his 21st save.
Davis’ second career slam gave him 115 RBIs, second in the majors to the 122 for Boston’s J.D. Martinez.
Fiers (12-7) dropped to 5-1 over eight starts since being acquired from Detroit on Aug. 6. He gave up three runs and four hits in four innings. The righty worked out of a bases-loaded, no-out jam in the second.
“Put the guys behind early,” Fiers said. “Just too many jams, too many errant pitches.”
Cron had a two-run drive in the first and Adames hit a fourth-inning solo shot. The Rays (82-66) secured their first winning season since reaching the playoffs in 2013 (92-71) as an AL wild-card team.
“There’s no way around it, we’ve had a good year,” Cron said. “It’s just that the guys in front of us are having an exceptionally good year. I think most years this (record) would be good enough for a playoff spot.”
Kittredge also got the win in the Rays’ 7-5 victory Saturday night by retiring his only batter, Mark Canha, on two-out, bases-loaded grounder in the eighth.
Matt Olson, who went 2 for 3 with a walk, was the only Oakland player to reach base through seven innings.
Cron put Tampa Bay ahead 2-0 on his career-high 27th home, coming two pitches after Lowrie could only get a forceout after bobbling an apparent inning-ending double-play grounder to second by Ji-Man Choi.
The Rays went up 5-0 in the seventh on Brandon Lowe‘s two-run triple.
TWENTY IS STILL SPECIAL
Rays ace Blake Snell (19-5) will be seeking a major league-leading 20th win in the second of a three-game series Tuesday night at Texas. “I think it’s a huge stat for a pitcher,” Cash said. “Sometimes you’re at the mercy of the club, I understand that, but ultimately if you win 20 ballgames you’re going to put the club on your back and carry a lot of the load. Blake has done that.”
Athletics: RHP Trevor Cahill (upper back) is nearing a bullpen session and might rejoin the rotation next weekend. “We’ll have a better indication once gets off the mound and really has to extend,” Melvin said. “I think that’s where he was having his troubles.” Cahill is 6-3 in 19 starts.
Rays: OF Tommy Pham, playing through groin and right ring finger injuries was rested. … Cash said it is unclear if C Michael Perez (left hamstring) will return this season.
Athletics: RHP Liam Hendriks (0-1) will be the opener for the sixth time this month Tuesday night against the Los Angeles Angels.
Rays: RHP Tyler Glasnow (0-4) will face Texas RHP Adrian Sampson (0-1) on Monday night.