OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) - Once again Tampa Bay's bullpen came unraveled, a troubling yet familiar pattern for the Rays over the past nine days.
This time it cost heralded rookie right-hander Jeremy Hellickson a shot at a milestone victory.
Hellickson allowed only four hits through five-plus innings but the Rays relievers couldn't make it hold up and gave up three runs in the seventh inning of a 7-5 loss to the Oakland Athletics on Monday night.
``It was just one of those nights it didn't work. They just got us,' Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon said. ``Overall it wasn't that bad of game but we can't give up that kind of lead.'
Hellickson was in line to become the first rookie pitcher in the majors with 10 wins this season before the Rays' bullpen let him down.
The 24-year-old rookie, coming off victories against the Cardinals and Yankees, gave up Cliff Pennington's two-run home run in the second inning and allowed another run in the fifth. Hellickson walked four but left with only his second no-decision of the season.
``I tried to do a little bit too much and then I end up throwing too many pitches and walking guys and not going as deep as I would like to,' Hellickson said. ``You have to have quick innings there, especially after you score some runs early. I just didn't do a good job of throwing strikes.'
Conor Jackson hit a two-run double in the seventh to help the A's rally from three runs down to beat the Rays in the first meeting between the two clubs this season.
Pennington homered for the second time in four games and David DeJesus added two hits, including an RBI single to start the A's uprising against Tampa Bay's bullpen.
Ben Zobrist homered and doubled twice for the Rays, who lost for the third time in four games and dropped to 4-7 since the All-Star break.
The A's struggled against Hellickson but had no problems once they knocked the rookie right-hander out of the game.
Oakland trailed 5-2 but scored once off Hellickson in the sixth then took the lead with a three-run seventh.
Hideki Matsui, named AL Player of the Week earlier in the day, started the rally with a one-out single against reliever J.P. Howell (2-2). Josh Willingham walked and DeJesus followed with his single to drive in Matsui.
Joel Peralta replaced Howell and promptly gave up Jackson's double to center. Willingham scored and DeJesus slid in to home with the go-ahead run just ahead of the tag of catcher Kelly Shoppach.
``We didn't get our normal pitching tonight,' Maddon said. ``If Helly had better command he would have had a better chance go deeper in the game. We needed him to do that to really set up the bullpen properly.'
Oakland's bullpen succeeded where Tampa Bay's failed.
Brian Fuentes (2-8), the second of five A's pitchers, worked two-thirds of an inning for his first win since April 27. Andrew Bailey gave up two-out double and walk but retired Matt Joyce on a called third strike for his 12th save in 14 tries.
Every Oakland starter except Jemile Weeks and Scott Sizemore had at least one hit. Coco Crisp doubled in Pennington with an insurance run in the eighth.
Zobrist homered with two outs in the first off Guillermo Moscoso, who allowed five runs and eight hits with four walks.
Pennington's home run off Hellickson in the second extended his hitting streak to nine games and gave the A's a 2-1 lead.
Desmond Jennings' RBI double in the third tied the game before Johnny Damon scored on Jemile Weeks' throwing error in the fifth to give Tampa Bay the lead. B.J. Upton also tripled in the inning to drive in Matt Joyce.
Shoppach homered against Moscoso leading off the sixth to make it 5-2.
Jennings had two hits, including an RBI double in the second. The Tampa Bay outfielder is batting 6-for-11 (.545) since being called up from Triple-A Durham before Saturday's game against Kansas City.
Notes: Damon's double was the 505th of his career and left him one shy of tying Babe Ruth for 47th on baseball's career list. Zobrist has 40 RBIs on the road this season compared to 13 at Tropicana Field. ... Evan Longoria walked four times in five plat appearances, the first four-walk game of his career.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved