Rays hold off A’s in 9th, move back to .500
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Drew Smyly had his full complement of pitches working, a sharp difference from the Tampa Bay pitcher’s first start since coming off the disabled list.
It’s a small step in the comeback process but one that made all the difference in getting Smyly his first win in more than 11 months.
Smyly pitched into the sixth inning and the Rays survived another shaky ninth inning from closer Brad Boxberger and held on to beat the Oakland Athletics 2-1 on Friday night.
"I commanded the strike zone way better with all of my pitches," Smyly said. "That’s what you have to do to pitch at this level. They were really aggressive, swinging early in the count, and I was just trying to throw strikes and hit my spots."
Making his second start since missing more than three months with a torn labrum and tendonitis in his pitching shoulder, Smyly (1-2) gave up seven hits and struck out two in 5 2-3 innings.
He worked out of a pair of jams and pumped his fist after striking out Billy Burns to end the fifth. It was an emotional moment for the Rays veteran pitcher who last won on Aug. 27, 2014.
"It just helps when you can locate all your pitches," Smyly said. "In Texas I was pretty much throwing two pitches . fastball, slider. Today I threw some changeups, I threw a lot of curveballs, my slider was good. All in all it felt good out there."
Tampa Bay’s bullpen, which has struggled on this 10-game road trip, had its problems again. Closer Brad Boxberger gave up three consecutive singles in the ninth and allowed the A’s only run before getting Billy Burns to pop out for his 30th save.
Desmond Jennings drove in both runs for Tampa Bay with an RBI single in the second and a home run in the ninth.
The Rays made it stand up despite struggling with runners in scoring position.
Grady Sizemore was stranded at second after hitting a leadoff double in the sixth. Tampa Bay loaded the bases in the fifth and seventh but failed to score each time.
The A’s also had problems offensively and wasted a strong outing by starter Chris Bassitt. Bassitt (1-5) allowed one run and six hits over 6 2-3 innings but took the loss, his first since July 30.
"We got our share of hits, we couldn’t get a big one when we needed one," Oakland manager Bob Melvin said.
CASH BACKS BOXBERGER: Rays manager Kevin Cash doesn’t see much reason to worry about Boxberger’s recent struggles. The right-handed closer, who leads all major league relievers with nine losses, blew a save Wednesday and was on the verge of letting another one get away before he retired the final two batters to finish the game.
"Ninth innings are tough at times," Cash said. "This was a tough one. Good for him, good for us that he was able to kind of calm it down and get through that. That’s just kind of the luck he’s having right now. I think he did a heck of a job getting through it."
Rays: LHP Jake McGee underwent surgery to repair the torn meniscus in his left knee on Friday and could be sidelined up to two months. McGee was injured in Tuesday’s loss at Houston.
Athletics: 1B Ike Davis will undergo season-ending surgery to repair a torn hip labrum. Davis, who missed 33 games earlier this year with a strained quad, was placed on the disabled list Tuesday. … INF Brett Lawrie returned to the lineup after missing two days with a strained lat. … LF Coco Crisp went 2-for-4 after also sitting out two games. … INF Tyler Ladendorf was reinstated from the disabled list and optioned to Triple-A Nashville.
Rays: RHP Erasmo Ramirez (10-4) has been one of Tampa Bay’s most successful pitchers over the past three months but hasn’t had much luck against the A’s. Ramirez has lost in his last five starts against Oakland and is 0-6 in eight career appearances.
Athletics: RHP Sonny Gray (12-5) carries his AL-leading 2.04 ERA into Saturday’s evening start. Gray has two shutouts and three complete games over his previous eight starts.