OAKLAND, Calif. – The All-Star break turned out to be the perfect remedy for Oakland's ailing offense.
Now the Athletics are the hottest hitting team in baseball and not even Tampa Bay's top three pitchers could slow them down.
Hideki Matsui and Ryan Sweeney both homered as part of a nine-run fourth inning and the suddenly resurgent A's beat the Rays 13-4 on Wednesday night.
"It's about believing and starting over in the second half and trying to put the first half behind you," Oakland manager Bob Melvin said. "We've kept preaching as a staff that we feel like we're a good offensive team, no matter what the numbers looked like in first half."
The A's had a season-high 17 hits, with every starter getting at least one while seven scored.
Matsui was 3 for 5 with five RBIs, Jemile Weeks had three hits, three RBIs and three runs scored, and Scott Sizemore added two hits and two RBIs to lead the A's to their third straight win over the Rays.
Sweeney had three hits and scored twice — both times in the fourth when Oakland broke the game open.
"I think we've always had good hitters," Sweeney said. "Right now everybody's hitting so everybody's feeding off each other. Hopefully we can still come back and be in this thing somehow."
That might be tough since Oakland remained 11½ games behind Texas in the AL West.
Still, the outlook is a lot more encouraging than it was two weeks ago when the A's were swept by Texas in a four-game series just before the All-Star break.
Trevor Cahill went 7 1-3 innings with six strikeouts for his first win in more than a month, benefiting from Oakland's best offensive output of the season.
The Rays, who broke one of baseball's oldest records when they played their 705th consecutive game with a starting pitcher younger than 30 years old, lost for the 11th time in 15 games.
"We just don't hit anything," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "We're flat. And when you don't hit, it gives a team a flatness. The last two nights for us have not been good games for us. The hitting is just not there."
It is for the A's.
Conor Jackson and Sweeney both scored twice in the fourth when the A's, who lead the majors in batting since the All-Star break, sent 12 men to the plate in the inning to chase starter James Shields (9-9).
Matsui, who went 5 for 5 in a 7-5 loss to the Yankees on Sunday, hit an RBI double in the third, homered in the fourth and had a run-scoring single in the fifth.
Matsui's ninth homer of the season highlighted the A's highest-scoring inning this year. The five RBIs are the most by Matsui since he had five against Baltimore on Sept. 13, 2009.
"Guys like that, even when they're struggling, they're working hard, they're setting the example," Melvin said. "He's been a key cog for us not only production-wise but stability-wise."
Sweeney had two hits in the fourth, including his first home run since May 4, 2010, when the A's took a 10-0 lead.
Cahill (9-9) gave up four hits and walked four but stayed out of trouble all game. The right-hander, 0-4 in his previous five starts, only allowed one runner past second while earning his first win since beating Philadelphia on June 25.
Oakland, which has won seven of its last eight games at home, improved to 8-4 since the All-Star break after beating the Rays' top three pitchers — rookie Jeremy Hellickson, David Price and Shields.
It could have been worse for Tampa Bay.
The A's made it 13-0 on Weeks' bases-loaded sacrifice fly in the sixth but missed a chance for more when Cliff Pennington was doubled off second base on the play. It was the only mistake Oakland made.
Outside of breaking the Washington Senators' 94-year-old record for young pitchers, not much went right for Tampa Bay.
Shields, the All-Star right-hander who pitched the first game of the Rays' record-breaking streak when it began on May 25, 2007, allowed 12 hits and 10 earned runs — the third time in his career he has given up 10 runs in a game.
Tampa Bay, which has been outscored 26-10 through the first three games of this four-game series, scored four times in the ninth to avoid its 11th shutout of the season.
Matt Joyce hit his 15th home run of the season, while Desmond Jennings and Johnny Damon also drove in runs.
The Rays played without slugging outfielder B.J. Upton, who has been the subject of trade rumors. Maddon said the decision to sit Upton had more to do with his 3-for-38 slump than the trade talk.
"I've just been looking for moments to give B.J. a rest," Maddon said before the game. "I know all these different things that are being swirled about has got to have some kind of an impact on him, too. I wouldn't think it would be easy to read that stuff all the time."
Notes: The Rays last started a pitcher 30 or older on May 24, 2007, when Jae Sao took the mound on his 30th birthday. ... Tampa Bay optioned RHP Jay Buente back to Triple-A Durham, one day after the reliever was called up and made his Rays debut. The team called up RHP Rob Delaney from Durham to take Buente's spot on the roster. ... The A's optioned RHP Joey Devine to Sacramento (PCL) and called up RHP Trystan Magnuson.