OAKLAND, Calif. – Alex Cobb shut down Oakland for seven innings and Carlos Pena homered to help the Tampa Bay Rays complete a successful nine-game road trip by beating the Athletics 4-1 on Wednesday.
Pena, who drove in five runs in the series, hit an RBI double in the sixth inning and a solo homer in the eighth. Jeff Keppinger scored twice and Matt Joyce and Ryan Roberts also drove in runs for the Rays, who won three straight series on one trip for the fourth time in franchise history.
Tampa Bay took two of three against Baltimore, the Angels and A's to move within 1½ games of Oakland for the second wild-card spot in the American League.
Brandon Inge homered for the A's, who followed up the best July in club history by losing the first game of August. Oakland got back into the AL playoff race by going 19-5 last month, but the A's have dropped consecutive games for the first time since losing three straight at Texas to end June.
Cobb (5-8) followed up James Shields' shutout on Tuesday night with a strong start of his own, settling down after escaping a bases-loaded jam in the first. He allowed four hits and one walk, striking out six.
After getting only one run of support while losing his previous three starts, Cobb took the mound with a 1-0 lead thanks to some rare small ball by the Rays. Desmond Jennings led off against Jarrod Parker (7-5) with a single, advanced to second on B.J. Upton's first sacrifice bunt of the season and scored on a two-out hit by Joyce.
Cobb struck out Brandon Moss with the bases loaded to end the bottom half, starting a run of 10 straight batters that he retired. That was snapped when Inge led off the fifth inning with his 12th homer to cut Tampa Bay's lead to 2-1, but Cobb pitched around a double by Kurt Suzuki to preserve the lead.
Fernando Rodney pitched the ninth for his 31st save in 32 chances.
Keppinger doubled and scored on a two-out hit by Roberts to give Tampa Bat a 2-0 lead in the fourth. The Rays were unable to capitalize on another sacrifice bunt by Upton in the fifth when Ben Zobrist hit into a fielder's choice with runners on second and third and Joyce grounded out.
Pena's RBI double in the sixth made it 3-1.
Parker allowed three runs and eight hits in six innings. He gave up more than two runs for only the sixth time in 19 career starts.
NOTES: A's OF Josh Reddick went 0 for 4 to extend his career-worst hitless streak to 21 at-bats. ... Oakland OF Coco Crisp (left hamstring) has made significant progress and could be back in the lineup soon, manager Bob Melvin said. ... A's SS Cliff Pennington (left elbow) could begin a rehab assignment Friday. ... The Rays granted Hideki Matsui his release before the game. He was designated for assignment last week. ... The A's open a four-game home series against Toronto on Thursday when Bartolo Colon (7-8) takes the mound against Henderson Alvarez (7-7). ... The Rays are off Thursday before returning home to face Baltimore.