For only the second time this season, the Tampa Bay Rays must find a way to bounce back from a home loss.
After falling short of matching the club record for consecutive home victories, the Rays can still win their fifth straight series at Tropicana Field on Sunday against the Oakland Athletics.
Riding a 10-game home winning streak, Tampa Bay (19-9) overcame an early two-run deficit only to watch ex-Ray Jonny Gomes homer in the 12th inning to give Oakland a 4-3 victory Saturday.
The defeat dropped the Rays to 13-2 at Tropicana Field, where their only previous loss came against Minnesota on April 20. Desmond Jennings had three hits while Carlos Pena, Ben Zobrist and Elliot Johnson each homered for Tampa Bay, which had won six straight and 12 of 13 overall.
"It was a tough way to lose," Pena told the Athletics' official website. "But you've got to tip your hat to the way (Oakland) played."
The Rays were done in by Gomes, who spent his first six seasons in Tampa from 2003-08, at the plate and on the field. Two innings before he homered, Gomes robbed Pena of extra bases with a leaping catch at the left-field wall.
Playing for his third team since leaving the Rays, Gomes has five home runs and eight RBIs in 17 games for Oakland (14-14). He's 6 for 14 with two home runs in five games against Tampa Bay.
"At this point, I've got a lot of ex-teams,' Gomes said, "and I've got nothing but respect for that team over there. This isn't, rub it in Tampa's face, or it's awesome because it's against my old team. It's just good to get a win against the best team in baseball right now.'
Winners in three of four since dropping three in a row, the A's get their first look at scheduled Tampa Bay starter Matt Moore (1-1, 4.20 ERA). The rookie left-hander looks to build on his last outing when he allowed seven hits but only a home run while striking out seven in five innings of a 3-1 victory over Seattle on Tuesday.
"The five-and-dive wins don't feel as good as saving the bullpen," Moore told the Rays' official website. "We're playing very well right now, so it's good."
Oakland counters with its own rookie left-hander, Tommy Milone (3-2, 3.69), who will face Tampa Bay for the first time. He allowed six runs, 17 hits and one home run in 27 innings of his first four starts before giving up eight runs and eight hits - including three homers - in 4 2-3 innings of an 11-6 loss at Boston on Monday.
"You're out there pitching, doing the same thing and hopefully you get the same result," Milone said. "We didn't, but move onto the next one.'
Oakland outfielder Josh Reddick, who homered with two RBIs on Saturday, is batting .325 (13 for 40) with three home runs and eight RBIs in his last nine games.
Jennings has hit .421 (16 for 38) in nine career games versus Oakland.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved